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cast: Justin Bartha, Zach Galifianakis, Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms, and Heather Graham
director: Todd Phillips
92 minutes (15) 2009
widescreen ratio 2.35:1
Warner DVD Region 2 retail
review by James A. Stewart
To make a great comedy it is absolutely essential that the characters, no matter how far out there, can be related to and that the balance
between the triumvirate of subtly, absurdity and crudity is maintained throughout. In the Todd Phillips directed movie The Hangover
these essential requirements are delivered with aplomb.
Four men, three friends and a reluctantly invited future brother-in-law, make their way to Las Vegas for a night on the tiles. There is the
super-confident good-looking Phil, and Stu who is a downtrodden idiot. With this pair are Doug (the groom) and his wife's brother, Alan, who
is an unhinged and frankly bizarre individual who at times shows all the social skills of a monkey at an English garden party.
They are on a 'bachelor party', to use the American phrase, and Phil, being the alpha-male, takes the lead in the group and after a few drinks
(one spiked) the movie splits from a pre-bar drink on the roof of the hotel to the team waking up in a trashed hotel suite with no memory of
the night before.
What makes The Hangover work is the characterisation - Alan (Zach Galifianakis) is John Belushi reincarnate and, as the movie wears
on, we learn to love this rogue and grow to appreciate he is misunderstood, if still a wee bit weird. Stu's under-the-thumb subservience to
his two-timing girlfriend is reflective of a character in most social circles - we all have a friend who causes us to scratch our head in
befuddlement as to why they still persist with their relationship. Phil is the good looking, sporty-type who everyone looks to, no matter
how idiotic the idea. In the context of the film, Doug doesn't really matter as he is missing for the vast majority of it. And this is the
vehicle on which the movie works.
Phil, Stu and Alan's loss of memory means they cannot locate Doug and so off they set on a series of quite bizarre adventures to try and
recall the events of the night gone and get their friend back. They quickly find out that Stu has been married, the triads are after them,
and so are the police, and that the tiger they stole whilst stinking drunk was Mike Tyson's. Everything that would potentially happen on a
more sedate stag-do is exaggerated to implausible lengths, yet the genius is that the plausibility is not questioned due to the fact that
the setting is Las Vegas and that the characters carry on if all is normal.
A special mention should go to Mr Chow (Ken Jeo) who makes a couple of brief appearances but must be the campest gangster in history and his
mix of American idioms with eastern actions is hilarious.
The Hangover is a quality comedy made with a great cast, excellent direction and extremely funny writing. The only criticism is the
ending seems a bit rushed and feels as if the writers didn't quite know how serious to be in the end. But, this is a minor criticism of what
is a truly hilarious film.