Warner Brothers has been blasting ads for “The Hangover” everywhere you look. I can honestly say it’s the film with the most trailers and commercials I’ve seen this year. So my first inclination is to expect nothing, as the funniest parts have probably been revealed to draw in a gullible audience. Oh, was I wrong. The Hangover is freaking hilarious. Raunchy, lewd, filled with hideous amounts of dudity (aka male nudity), and ninety minutes of pure perverse laughter. Todd Phillips, who Warner Brothers has been extolling as the director of “Old School”, brings the lessons learned from that film to glory here. He takes the buddy comedy, wraps it into the Vegas comedy, and then mixes in a ludicrous, farfetched mystery. It’s a goldmine of comedic possibility.
Four buddies head to Las Vegas for a bachelor party. Doug (Justin Bartha) is getting married. He’s accompanied by his best friends; Phil (Bradley Cooper) – the Vince Vaughn-esque character, Stu (Ed Helms) - the nebbish dentist whipped like a circus monkey by his girlfriend, and Alan (Zach Galifianakis) – Doug’s socially retarded brother-in-law to be. The group starts their night with a shot on the hotel roof, only to waken the next morning to a chaotic scene in their suite. Stu’s missing a tooth. Alan has a belly ring and no pants. Phil’s naked on the floor beside a smoldering coach. Strange, but pales in comparison to the tiger in the bathroom, chicken running loose, and baby in the cupboard. The fellas have no memory whatsoever of the previous night’s events, and even worse, can’t find Doug anywhere. They embark on a twisted odyssey to recreate the night and find their best friend, with the added pressure of Doug’s impending wedding later in the day.
This film was executed like a battle plan by the writers, John Lucas and Scott Moore. They came up with a series of insanely different objects, then built a relatively straightforward story into finding their origins. Sounds unremarkable, but in a world of rehashed Vegas movies, this is a clever exposition. A script this good in the hands of Todd Phillips and his ability to keep a steady pace between big laughs is a definite winner. There really isn’t a scene that drags in the entire film.
I saw this with a friend of mine who’s seen Old School enough times to be embarrassed. He keenly pointed out a few cameos by Old School characters in The Hangover. Thank goodness Phillips didn’t take this too far. I would never have noticed them, so they turn out to be good Easter Eggs for the diehard fan.