The Hangover Review 1

The Hangover

DIR: Todd Phillips • WRI: Jon Lucas, Scott Moore • PRO Daniel Goldberg, Todd Phillips, David Siegel, Jeffrey Wetzel • DOP: Lawrence Sher • ED: Debra Neil-Fisher • DES: Bill Brzeski • CAST: Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms, Zach Galifianakis, Justin Bartha, Heather Graham

Nine years ago, writer/director Todd Phillips’ Road Trip focused on the anticipated experiences of a young, male, college student demographic. Now, unsurprisingly, The Hangover deals with a similar demographic roughly nine years older. The character archetypes, the gender politics and the story arc remain remarkably unchanged. The story centres on the aftermath of a debauched bachelor party in Las Vegas and follows three amnesiac groomsmen as they try to piece together the events that led to the groom’s disappearance.

The standout comedy performance is the bearded oddball Alan, played by Zach Galifianakis. Not unlike Tom Green in delivery and tone, his career looks likely to follow the same trajectory as Green’s through no fault of his own. Ed Helms is perfectly cast as a geeky, conservative dentist, Stu, who is terrified of his controlling wife. Many viewers will recognise him from The Office and The Daily Show. The groom, Doug, (Justin Bartha) is suitably adequate in an unchallenging role and rugged alpha male Phil (Bradley Cooper) plays the closest thing to a lead character. He is the strident, confident one who has, it seems to imply, the right approach to life and love and the strength of this helps to guide whipped Stu to get his mojo back. Phil’s opening scene, which is designed to reveal the essence of his personality to us, shows him as a high school teacher stealing money from his students’ class trip fund and hopping into a convertible with the guys, asking to be taken away from ‘those geeks’ (his students). If this doesn’t make you instantly hate him and, by virtue of his involvement in it, the film, then you will enjoy it. And there is plenty for the buddy movie fan to enjoy. It has good comic timing, features everything a movie of the genre needs to be popular and some wacky ‘random’ bits thrown in to draw the audience into the mystery of the forgotten night – including Stu’s missing tooth, a baby and a tiger in their hotel room, an eccentric Asian gangster and a visit from comical rapist Mike Tyson.

The female characters are also neatly archetypal, including the tart-with-a-heart (Heather Graham), the emasculating bitch and the pretty one with no discernable character traits. Music features heavily in the film and the opening shots of Las Vegas were quite stunning and fresh, for one of the most filmed cities in the world. It has some very funny gags, most of which are character based. The dialogue between Stu and his controlling wife, for example, is hilarious and very sharp.

The Hangover will undoubtedly be a hit, especially among its target audience and The Hangover 2 is already in development. Put simply, this is such a strict genre film that it is unlikely to impress you if Road Trip or Ghosts of Girlfriends Past didn’t, and, equally, those who are already kindly disposed to the genre will love it.

Angela Nagle
(See biog here)

Rated 16 (see IFCO website for details)
The Hangover
is released on 12th June 2009
The Hangover
– Official Website