Picture a better-written, wackier version of Bachelor Party, and you’ll have The Hangover, a tale of four buddies who head into Vegas for a night of debauchery but wake up the next morning with a tiger in the bathroom, a missing tooth, and a baby and short one dude. The Hangover is drop-dead hilarious, with situations zany enough to be outlandish but rooted just enough in reality to be remotely plausible.
On the day before their buddy Doug (Justin Bartha) is to get hitched, his pals Stu (Ed Helms), Phil (Bradley Cooper), and Alan (Zach Galifianakis) take him to Las Vegas for one more night on the town. The next morning, three of them wake up in their massive hotel suite, much the worse for wear. There’s a feline in the bathtub, a baby is screaming, Stu is missing a tooth, and Doug is nowhere to be found. Plus, none of them can remember what they did the previous night.
The boys then spend the rest of the movie trying desperately to retrace their steps and find Doug, somewhere. Not as easy as it sounds, what with the memory loss and all, and it quickly becomes apparent that they didn’t just party at one casino all night. Phil even has a bracelet from a local hospital, so you know there has to be a neat story there as well.
The movie starts off a little slowly as characters are being established; Stu is a weenie who’s henpecked by his longtime
girlfriend, played a little too rotten by Rachael Harris; Phil is a colossal jerk; and Alan is an odd duck who just plain seems a little off. During the first fifteen minutes or so, I was sort of hoping that something horrible would happen to Phil, he was so annoying, but as the movie progressed it was apparent that Phil’s jerkiness was the least of the boys’ problems.
Usually, when you have a movie in which the characters dash from crazy situation to crazy situation, the circumstances become more and more ludicrous, each wacky moment attempting to top the last. This isn’t the case with The Hangover; in fact, this movie almost works as a mystery as well. What, indeed, has happened to Doug? The introduction of secondary characters helps the plot along, it doesn’t distract or detract from it.
The cast is game and seems to be having a great time. Galifianakis is at his deadpan best as the off-kilter Alan, and Helms is a bit of a surprise as Stu (I knew he had some comedy chops as a graduate of The Daily Show, but not for a full-length feature). Then you have people like Heather Graham (where’s she been?) as the requisite stripper, Jeffrey Tambor as Doug’s future father in law, Mike Epps as, um, Black Doug, and even Mike Tyson playing – get this – himself.
There are plenty of laugh-out-loud moments, and it’s reasonable to assume you’ll find this a stitch if you liked director Todd Phillips’ earlier movies: Old School and Road Trip. The Hangover is flat-out funny.
The Hangover: ***