The Hangover

June, 2009, Comedy

Directed by:Todd Phillips

Starring:Bradley Cooper , Ed Helms , Zach Galifianakis , Heather Graham , Justin Bartha , Jeffrey Tambor , and Sasha Barrese

If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, right? Todd Phillips, director of such financially successful post-Animal House humor as Frat House, Old School and Road Trip hits box-office gold with this deliberately juvenile comedy about a trio of thirty-something guys who drag their about-to-be wed buddy to Las Vegas for a bachelor party weekend and wind up losing him. Lots of predictable mayhem ensues, (much of it coyly omitted from the action) before what actually occurred is cleverly summarized by still shots accompanying the ending credits. That trick bears favorable comparison to Woody’s Allen’s use of it in What’s Up Tiger Lily; if only the rest of the movie was half as clever as Allen’s.

Groom-to-be Doug (Justin Bartha) is given his future father-in-law’s elegant convertible so he can ferry his two best friends to Las Vegas for 48 hours of pre-nuptial debauchery. Stu (Ed Helms) is a dentist whose shrewish finance monitors his every move; Phil (Bradley Cooper), is a hot-shot teacher at an expensive prep school and the only member of the trio who is already married and a father, facts which haven’t added appreciably to his level of maturity. Alas, these three musketeers must also take along future brother-in-law Alan (Zach Galifianakis) a nebbish of such limited social skills he’s forced to sit in the back seat and suffer Stu’s incessant verbal abuse. Although he seems harmless enough, it’s Alan who laces their initial celebratory shots of Jagermeister with rohypnol, the “date rape” drug. Stu, Phil and Alan awaken the morning the next morning in their lavish suite accompanied by a live rooster, a tiger menacing the bathroom and a baby boy tucked into a dresser drawer…but no Doug.

As the three panicked revelers try to retrace their movements during the preceding evening while ducking the frantic phone calls from the bride to be, they discover (1) one of them has married a stripper, (2) they’ve stolen a police car and (3) urinated in Mike Tyson’s swimming pool before taking his pet tiger for a joy ride. And so it goes…

Assorted weirdoes make the process of finding Doug sufficiently complex to stretch the plot out to requisite feature-film length, but Hangover never builds any momentum - - it lurches from scene to scene, allowing one preposterous incident after another to unfold without creating a sense of continuity that’s capable of really engaging the audience. Some of the bits are genuinely clever, but Hangover winds up being much less than the sum of its parts.

The Verdict? All windup, but alas- nothing much in the delivery.

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