Review by Jack Foley
AMERICAN comedy appears to be in the rudest of health right now… and all the better for it.
As Judd Apatow continues to breathe new ife into the R-rated comedy with assistance from the likes of Paul Rudd, Seth Rogen and co, and Ben Stiller rediscovers his adult tendencies with Tropic Thunder, Todd (Old School) Phillips returns with yet another classic-in-the-making.
The Hangover is a proper guilty pleasure – a riotous comedy about men behaving badly by resorting to their inner child. Yet it’s also pretty clever too, taking on a mystery element that elevates it above the norm for this kind of thing.
Two days before his wedding, Doug (Justin Bartha) heads to Vegas with best friends Phil (Bradley Cooper) and Stu (Ed Helms) and future brother-in-law Alan (Zach Galifianakis) for a final bachelor blow-out.
Waking up the next morning, however, Phil, Stu and Alan have no recollection of what happened the night before or, more importantly, where Doug has gone. They spend the ensuing 24 hours attempting to solve the mystery of their friend’s fate while having to contend with Mike Tyson’s tiger in their hotel bathroom, a missing tooth, an abandoned baby, a kooky stripper (Heather Graham) and a vengeance seeking Korean gambler (Ken Jeong).
The Hangover thrives by keeping its viewers as much in the dark as the principals themselves, as each new clue brings about a hilarious revelation that’s often as surprising as it is inspired.
It also benefits from the obvious camaraderie that exists between the main characters, with each member of the trio making their mark in some way.
Cooper displays an easygoing charm that’s reminiscent of Vince Vaughn at his smoothest and most egotistical, while Helms is suitably neurotic as the sensible member of the group.
But it’s Galifianakis’ “fat Jesus” who will win most people over, his oddball brother-in-law a genuine one of a kind whose pratfalls are among the most funny the film has to offer.
Phillips also makes good use of locations, with Lawrence Sher’s striking cinematography capturing both the seductive element of Vegas and its dangers, while the script from Jon Lucas and Scott Moore (of Ghosts of Girlfriends Past and Four Christmases fame) is consistently – and surprisingly given their track record – on the money.
What’s more, the film cleverly strikes a chord with anyone who’s ever had trouble recollecting what happened the night before, and is sure to spark many a pub reminiscing session afterwards.
The Hangover therefore offers a near perfect cocktail of mystery, hilarity and winning performances to emerge as one of the undisputed Hollywood comedies of the year.
The Hangover is available on Blu-ray, DVD, On Demand and Digital Download December 7, 2009.
Running time: 100mins
UK DVD & Blu-ray Release Date: December 7, 2009