The Hangover movie review
– by Liz Stanton
The Hangover is director Todd Phillips’ latest contribution to the “oh, boys will be boys!” genre that Judd Apatow has so recently re-popularized. Actually, you could say that Phillips was at the forefront of this trend, since he was also the man behind Old School, a movie my boyfriend (and millions of guys across North America) will still routinely cite as “the funniest movie, EVER. Name a funnier movie!” Though perhaps The Hangover won’t be quoted in bizarre male bonding rituals quite as often as Old School is, it’s still an enjoyable addition to the canon.
If you’ve seen the trailer, you know what you’re in for – three men (Bradley Cooper, Zach Galifianakis, and Ed Helms) take their buddy Doug (Justin Bartha) for a bachelor party in Vegas that they hope will never be forgotten, only to wake up the next morning with zero recollection of the night’s events and a Caesar’s Palace suite full of problems. Tiger in the bathroom? Check. Crying baby in the closet? Oh hey, right over there. The groom, of course, is nowhere to be found.
The rest of the film, in keeping with the tradition of (ahem) classics like Dude, Where’s My Car?, follows the hapless protagonists around the bizarre wonderland that is Las Vegas, as they try to piece together their shattered memories and find Doug in time for the wedding. Just as you know that the pristine vintage car loaned to the crew by Doug’s soon to be father-in-law (Jeffrey Tambor, awesome as ever) will never survive intact, you can expect clichés like hookers with hearts of gold (Heather Graham, playing the exact same character she always does).
The first half of The Hangover cruises on the strength of sheer anticipation – there are more than a few “Seriously, how the fuck did that happen?” moments. Towards the end of the film, though, as inevitable resolutions are reached, the pace starts to lag a bit. It seemed that the writers got most of their chuckles thinking up impossible situations, but didn’t bother to find solutions that were more than momentarily amusing. There are a few choice lines that still have me giggling, though – mostly those uttered by Galifianakis.
Though Cooper is slimily appealing as Phil, the cynical but charming schoolteacher, it is Helms and Galifianakis that come out smelling like roses. Helms as the sweet but spineless dentist Stu is instantly endearing, and Galifianakis somehow manages to make Alan, a creepy man-child and possible pedophile, one of the funniest characters in recent cinematic history. Even the way he carries himself, his not-inconsiderable belly always leading the way, is enough to bring a smile.
I know it’s probably too much to expect a comedy so clearly aimed at dudes to include female characters who are more than broadly sketched stereotypes – you have your shrew, your doormat, and the aforementioned hooker – but a girl can dream, right? I didn’t go to The Hangover to reaffirm my feminism, though. I went to laugh my ass off, and that I did. And if a jerk like me can have a good time, there’s a good chance you will too.