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Monday, June 22, 2009

THE HANGOVER (2009) - Todd Phillips

You’ll have to excuse the briefness of this review as I’m writing it, and my thoughts on Transformers both in one sitting, and I’m just dying to get onto Transformers. The Hangover is a comedy from Todd Phillips, the writer-director of Old School and Road Trip. In a way, The Hangover is like a melding of those two films. It’s part road movie, part grown up guys having a good time with consequences film, although in this film, we only see their partying.

Doug is due to get married. Two days before his wedding, his best friends, Phil and Stu, and Doug’s soon-to-be brother in law, Alan take him on his bachelor weekend in Las Vegas. Phil is a married teacher and wants to party hard before he has to settle for good. Stu is a man on the verge of proposing to his girlfriend, a thundering bitch who keeps tabs on him twenty four seven. And Alan is a bit of an idiot, but well-meaning at the heart of it. Things go awry when Phil, Stu and Alan wake up after the party with no memory of what had happened and no sign of Doug’s whereabouts. So they must begin an odyssey to find their friend before the wedding.

There’s not much that can really be said about The Hangover. It’s a really entertaining, genuinely funny buddy comedy that relies less on gross-out humour and more on situational comedy. It’s too easy to just gross the audience into laughter in comedies these days. But rather than rely on that, Phillips lets his characters and the messes they get themselves into create the laughs. Ed Helms, who is a central character on The Office seems most at home when it comes to comedy. He’s a very funny performer, and while Stu, his character in the Hangover isn’t as ludicrous as The Office’s Andy Bernard, he still handles the situations very well.

Zach Galifianakis plays the idiot of the piece, which, along with Bradley Cooper’s pretty asshole character, is a staple of these types of comedies. It’d be too easy to mess this character up, but Galifianakis gets some pretty big laughs throughout the film. He spends most of the film with a blank expression on his face, but the is part of his schtick, and carries the character.

The most uncomfortable part of the film is a cameo by Mike Tyson. It’s impossible to separate Tyson from the controversies that have dogged him throughout his career. And when he does turn up, you can’t help but feel he’s going to lose it, step out of the screen and punch you right in the face. However, seeing Tyson singing and air-drumming along Phil Collins’ ‘In The Air Tonight’ is worth the price of admission alone, and much more entertaining than a drumming ape in a chocolate advertisement.

A very solid and entertaining comedy, The Hangover shows that resorting to lowest common denominator laughs isn’t the only way to garner a chuckle from the audience. Far better than Phillips’ other two hits, The Hangover is a quality film amidst a swathe of really terrible summer blockbusters.


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