Continuing the “Old School” tradition of adult comedies with immature humor, The Hangover succeeds with a promising premise and several inspired performances from its leads. While the plot’s creativity does diminish at about the halfway mark and comparisons to lesser films of the genre become more apparent, the R-rated laughs and hilariously despicable misadventures of our gang of inebriated antiheroes maintains a consistent pairing of riotous vulgarities and comical camaraderie in desperation.
Before Doug’s (Justin Bartha) wedding, his best friends Phil (Bradley Cooper) and Stu (Ed Helms), along with the groom’s soon-to-be brother-in-law Alan (Zach Galifianakis), plan a wild bachelor party in Las Vegas. Upon awakening the next morning, Doug is missing and no one can seem to remember the events that transpired the night before. An abandoned baby, a missing tooth, a hospital tag, and a live tiger in the bathroom are just a few of the clues the hungover group of misfits must follow to find their friend and return home before the big day.
The Hangover is off to a good start when the major players immediately express their mismatched personalities and generally dysfunctional problem-solving attitudes. Shaft and semen jokes within the first 10 minutes, an eye-flinching jockstrap flash and questionable social mindsets also add to the roseate chaos to come. Although the story isn’t entirely original, the premise is a nearly perfect setup for a comedy, and it’s fitting that the rating doesn’t hinder the outrageous levels of grossly immature and chiefly adult humor. Too bad the title “What Happens in Vegas” was already taken by a softy romantic chick-flick.
The film has a suitable mix of serious predicaments tied into the crude gags, brutal slapstick, the completely unexpected, hilariously coarse language and (no longer) limits-pushing nudity (unfortunately mostly male). This better balances the pacing of the film and grounds it in reality a little more convincingly, even though it appears to exaggerate out-of-control bachelor party scenarios – director Todd Phillips is convinced that there are real party stories out there that would make any element of The Hangover pale in comparison. With a barbarous stun gun demonstration, a stolen police car, a misplaced tiger, an unclaimed baby, Asian mobsters, Rain Man-gambling, and an unplanned marriage, the film is like Harold and Kumar on ecstasy and Saving Private Ryan in Vegas. It may not be the most groundbreaking comedy, but following the drunken leads’ exploits in reverse is a formula for a great time.
– The Massie Twins (www.GoneWithTheTwins.com)