Doug Billings (Justin Bartha) is getting married in two days, and his best friends Phil Wenneck (Bradley Cooper) and dentist Dr. Stu Price (Ed Helms) are taking him to Vegas for his bachelor party. Unfortunately, the groom's freakish future brother-in-law Alan (Zach Galifianakis) is tagging along as well. With their villa at Caesar's Palace secured, they head up to the hotel roof for a round of shots before hitting the strip. The next morning, Doug is gone and the remaining "party" members awake in a sea of destruction. Stu has lost a tooth. There's a newborn baby in the closet. And there's a real man-eating tiger in the bathroom. Hoping to track down their pal, Phil, Stu, and Alan begin searching. Eventually, they run into Asian gangsters, Mike Tyson, and Stu's quickie stripper bride Jade (Heather Graham), but no Doug. And time is running out before the groom has to walk down the aisle.
The Hangover is a very funny film, the cinematic equivalent of Jell-O shots. It takes the standard notion of a boys' night out and turns it into part gross-out gag fest, part "what comes next" mystery. There is a darkness to Phillips' take on the material, a genuine sense of danger that comes across clearly and often. It doesn't take away from the humor, but it does make the eventual revelations about the night's events all the more unexpected. In fact, what's most shocking about The Hangover is that it was scripted by Jon Lucas and Scott Moore, the dunderheaded duo who gave us the awful Four Christmases and the equally lame Ghosts of Girlfriends Past. Clearly, they've had some kind of wit epiphany, or Phillips is the right man for their material.
But this movie really belongs to longtime stand-up Galifianakis. As Alan, Doug's baggage-riddled soon-to-be relative, this man-purse carrying closeted savant is so unhinged, so completely and utterly disconnected with reality, that he can make even the most ludicrous question ("Is this the 'real' Caesar's palace?") into psychotic haiku. All throughout The Hangover, Phillips turns the lens toward Galifianakis just to see what kind of fever dream dementia will come crawling out of his maw, and the comedian never disappoints. He literally steals the movie away from Cooper and Helms, who are both outstanding as the relative extremes (partier, pragmatist) who come to see the other's particular point of view.
Yet the most important thing about The Hangover is just how side-splitting it is. Phillips piles on the jokes, keeping the comic tension taut and never once letting us come up for air. There are moments of scatological physical shtick as well as a few chosen moments with a welcome ex-champ (indeed, stay for the credits for more outlandish Vegas cameos). In a genre recently overrun by Judd Apatow and his cadre of friends, The Hangover more than holds its own. It's easily one of the funniest films of the year.
About that bridal suite...
Run time: 100 mins
In Theaters: Friday 5th June 2009
Box Office USA: $277.3M
Box Office Worldwide: $459.3M
Distributed by: Warner Bros. Pictures
Production compaines: Warner Bros. Pictures, Legendary Pictures, Green Hat Films, IFP Westcoast Erste
Contactmusic.com: 4 / 5
Rotten Tomatoes: 79%
Fresh: 177 Rotten: 48
IMDB: 7.8 / 10
Director: Todd Phillips
Starring: Bradley Cooper as Phil Wenneck, Ed Helms as Stu Price, Zach Galifianakis as Alan Garner, Justin Bartha as Doug Billings, Heather Graham as Jade, Sasha Barrese as Tracy Garner, Jeffrey Tambor as Sid Garner, Ken Jeong as Mr. Chow, Rachael Harris as Melissa, Mike Tyson as Himself, Mike Epps as Black Doug, Jernard Burks as Leonard, Rob Riggle as Officer Franklin, Cleo King as Officer Garden, Bryan Callen as Eddie Palermo, Matt Walsh as Dr. Valsh, Ian Anthony Dale as Chow's #1, Michael Li as Chow's #2, Sondra Currie as Linda, Gillian Vigman as Stephanie, Nathalie Fay as Lisa, Chuck Pacheco as Hotel Guest at Valet, Jesse Erwin as Hotel Valet, Dan Finnerty as Wedding Singer, Keith Lyle as Casino Dealer, Brody Stevens as Officer Foltz, Todd Phillips as Mr. Creepy, Mike Vallely as Neeco, James Martin Kelly as Police Clerk, Murray Gershenz as Felix, Andrew Astor as Eli, Casey Margolis as Budnick, Ken Flaherty as Old Timer at Gas Station, Joe Alexander as Pit Boss, Constance Broge as Woman in Elevator, Sue Pierce as Mini-Mart Cashier, Floyd Levine as Tailor, Robert A. Ringler as Minister, Britt Barrett as Bridesmaid, Chauntae Davies as Bridesmaid, Alisa Allapach as Bridesmaid, Nicholas Furu as Stun Gun Boy, Angelica Flameno as Stun Gun Girl, Lily Winn as Screaming Girl, Katerina Moutsatsou as Eddie's Assistant (as Katerina Moutsatsos), Faleolo Alailima as Tyson's Bodyguard, Rio Ahn as Orderly (uncredited), John Bailey as Ceasar's Palace Pimp (uncredited), Bart Blackburn as Drunk Casino Patron (uncredited), Jordan Bobbitt as Flower Girl #1 (uncredited), Guile Branco as Guest at Casino (uncredited), Joey Brander as Student (uncredited), Michael Bravo as Convenience Store Patron (uncredited), Kaitlin Clark as Girl in Elevator (uncredited), Natalie Cohen as Casino Patron #6 (uncredited), Matthew Corbett Davis as Blackjack Player (uncredited), Cody Deal as Roman Soldier at Caesar's Palace (uncredited), Lanette Fugit as High Roller (uncredited), Charlene Geisler as Katie - Girl in the elevator (uncredited), David Hill as Parent Driving Jaguar (uncredited), Mitch Holleman as Max - Student (uncredited), Brian Irvin as VIP Hotel Guest (uncredited), Ty Izquierdo as Bartender (uncredited), Brittani Jenee' as Bachelorette (uncredited), Carrie Keagan as Casino Guest (uncredited), Niko Koshet as Wedding Guest (uncredited), Dov Markowich as Blackjack Player (uncredited), Stephanie Mathis as Casino Guest (uncredited), Anthony Mingilino as Precision Driver (uncredited), April Montgomery as Groom's Wedding Guest (uncredited), Roy C. Peterson as Tri Card Player (uncredited), Alex Pulido as Private School Student (uncredited), Richard Reid as Vegas High Roller (uncredited), Joan Riegert as High Roller Wife (uncredited), Rachael Riegert as Cocktail Waitress (uncredited), Michael A. Rizza as Guy in the elevator (uncredited), Heather Roop as Mom in Elevator (uncredited), Joe Satriani as Guitarist in Wedding Band (uncredited), Fran Severini as Dancing Grandma (uncredited), Jessica Simons as Casino Guest (uncredited), Tom Spano as Casino High Roller (uncredited), Scott 'Carrot Top' Thompson as Himself (uncredited), Jaira Valenti as Bartender Hostess (uncredited), Ryan Van de Kamp Buchanan as Wedding Waiter (uncredited), Yvonne Vera as Extra (uncredited), Victor Yerrid as Tiger (uncredited)
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