Movie Review: The Hangover

BY ERIC ANDERSEN | JUNE 08, 2009 7:26 AM

**** out of *****

It’s 8 a.m. You bolt upright, hopefully in your own bed, with dryness and the aftertaste of liquor in your mouth. Getting up to grab a drink of water sounds like a good idea, but you are so queasy even the slightest movement makes you feel sick.

“What happened last night?”

For college students who enjoy the occasional company of friends like Jack Daniels and Captain Morgan, this is a familiar scenario. In director Todd Philips’ The Hangover, however, the result of the previous night is far more entertaining than realizing you broke your friend’s clock after eating a whole box of pizza rolls.

Phillips (of Old School fame) and writers Jon Lucas and Scott Moore have made a comedy film in The Hangover that is funnier and more thoughtful than much of Hollywood’s recent fare. The movie tells the story of three guys who set out to find their missing friend in Las Vegas after a night of drunken bachelor-party debauchery. No one can remember what happened the night before, so the men must piece together the previous night’s events by finding clues that involve ridiculous things like a baby, a tiger and a stolen cop car.

This could easily be another moronic Dude Where’s My Car? scenario, but The Hangover’s storyline is more thoroughly constructed. A lot of the fun in the movie is actually figuring out the mystery of the missing husband-to-be and what happened the night before.

The three main roles are smartly casted with lesser known actors. Bradley Cooper (Yes Man, The Rocker) plays Phil, an arrogant school teacher who is too cool for his students. Ed Helms (of TV’s “The Office” and “The Daily Show”) is Stu, a straight-edge dentist who has an overly controlling girlfriend. Comedian Zach Galifianakis (Out Cold) has many awkwardly funny one-liners as Alan, the socially inept brother-in-law. The three actors play off one another to make the laughs last throughout the entire movie.

Another great thing about the movie is that the jokes never feel overdone or forced. There are a few hilarious scenes revolving around a baby the guys find and name Carlos, but the character is taken out of the storyline before the cuteness and funny-factor wear off. Mike Tyson makes an awesome appearance as himself after showing up to retrieve his Bengal tiger. He sings Phil Collins’ “In the Air Tonight” for no reason besides the fact that it is funny to hear Tyson sing, and proves himself to be a decent actor to boot. The one gag that falls flat involves the character Mr. Chow (played by Ken Jeong), a relatively unfunny example of Chinese and homosexual stereotypes.

The details of the plot are pretty strong for a comedy film, although the story falters a bit towards the end in a cop-out realization in locating the lost groom. Fortunately, the movie regains its comedic steam and ends in a classic photo montage credit sequence that is worth sticking around for.

Plans are already in the works for a sequel to The Hangover, and it will be interesting to see how the foursome can top the outlandish situations presented here. The film reiterates Phillips’ role as one of the top comedy directors of today and The Hangover is definitely a movie worth remembering.

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