Directed by: Todd Phillips
Premise: A group of friends travel to Las Vegas for a bachelor party. They wake up the next morning unable to remember what happened and find the groom is missing. The men retrace their steps from the night before to try and discover what happened and find the groom.
What Works: The Hangover is another extreme sex comedy in the vein of films like Very Bad Things, Wedding Crashers, and Superbad. As a bachelor party film, it is expected that The Hangover will include lots of sophomoric humor, and it does, but this film goes farther than most others and earns points just for its audacity. The gross out humor exists within an interesting frame as the characters try to piece together exactly what happened and their detective work leads them into some very funny misadventures. Actors in comedies are not often recognized for their performances, but the work by Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms, and especially Zach Galifianakis is above average. This kind of film depends on a poetry of idiocy and the delivery and comic timing of these three men are spot on. The three actors play their roles just right, giving credible reactions to their unlikely situation while never letting the comedy dwindle.
What Doesn’t: If there is any element missing from the film, it is the lack of epiphany on the part of the groomsmen. Unlike the main characters of Wedding Crashers or Superbad, the men of The Hangover don’t learn anything from their experiences. This is troubling because these grown men have done really stupid things but rather than learning from their mistakes they instead pat themselves on the back. The film’s final message is not one that rewards personal responsibility but celebrates not getting caught.
Bottom Line: Despite some thematic shortcomings, The Hangover is a very good comedy. The film has lots of laughs for those who don’t mind being a little grossed out and it makes for a very fun two hours.
Episode: #243 (June 14, 2009)