The Hangover (2009) (R)
"The Hangover" brought back the raunchy R-rated comedy to the praise of both critics and audiences alike. The film was so successful that it spawned two sequels (though both of them never reaching the high watermark that the original did) and arguably reignited star Bradley Cooper's career as well as launching Ken Jeong into the spotlight.
The premise is fairly simple: three friends wake up in Vegas the day after a bachelor party and they can't find the groom-to-be. Now they have to track down the man of the hour and get him back to his wedding; but they don't remember anything from the night before. So they have to piece together the clues, each more ludicrous than the next to help them stitch together their memory and (hopefully) get them back together with their missing buddy.
Doug (Justin Bartha) is the lucky man. He and his friends Phil (Cooper), Stu (Ed Helms), and his future brother-in-law Alan (Zach Galifianakis) travel to Las Vegas to have one last night of wild partying before Doug gets balled-and-chained.
Each of the friends is their own peculiar shade of quirky. Phil is a teacher who cons his middle school students out of money so he can have more cash to spend in Vegas. He has a wife and kids, but always sings the woes of being married. Phil seems stuck in his college years, only wanting to party and live life wild.
Then there's Stu, a dentist in a relationship with Melissa (Rachael Harris) who is the quintessential hen-picking girlfriend. She doesn't let Stu do anything without calling her and asking her about it first. This is probably the reason that he lies to her and tells her that the crew is going to have the bachelor party in Napa Valley and not Sin City.
Lastly, we have Alan who is always the comedic relief of the movie. Unfortunately, the film doesn't nail down this character, just throwing everything and kitchen sink into the creation that is known as "Alan". There are so many sides to this one: he's possibly autistic, has no problem with nudity, is extremely conservative when it comes to language (though we only see this emerge well beyond the half-way mark of the movie), and he's apparently a math genius as well. One of the more delightful scenes of the movie is when Alan and company deliver a spoof of the movie "Rain Man".
Fast and sharp-witted, "The Hangover" could be a mystery if it played out differently, not using every spare second for another punch line. The format of the movie is similar to some classic tropes of thrillers and whatnot....the difference is the vulgarity and the, yes, intensely funny dialogue.
"The Hangover" is pretty faultless as far as laughs and entertainment is concerned. Even those who hated the movie can't deny that it passed the time quickly. This is partly because the movie moves so quickly. We blur scenes together until it appears like one long circus act. Of course, the problem with the semi-"Pulp Fiction" layout is that it might appear to be like vignettes following each other.
Yet the movie isn't about the intelligence or even the snobbery, it's an audience's film that critics just managed to like. The film isn't made to be a piece of high-brow cinema and it reminds us that, even though it is highly predictable and the ending may not be that satisfying, a large section of cinema is just made to entertain. If you're looking for a fun time, this is probably a safe bet.
Posted by Micah Jones