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The Hangover (2009)

R 100 minutes

Directed by Todd Phillips
Written by Jon Lucas, Scott Moore

 · Bradley Cooper
 · Zach Galifinakis
 · Ed Helms
 · Justin Bartha
 · Heather Graham

Review by Philter

In a comedy world where Apatow and Rogen reign emerges a movie from seasoned comedic director Todd Phillips. You may remember Todd... He brought us the instant classic Old School and the first in a wave of road trip movies, appropriately titled Road Trip. Phillip's great films have been overshadowed in the recent years by the Comedic Giant that is Apatow and Co. Phillips' last two movies flew under the radar of most: Starsky and Hutch missed the mark, and School for Scoundrels was just not good. With his latest film, Phillips strikes back with a comedy that will have you aching from laughter.




The Hangover builds on a simple premise and tries not to overcomplicate it: bachelor party in Vegas gets way out of hand and, no one can remember a thing. The story is simple, but in a good way. The real strength of this movie how the audience gets to experience everything right alongside the characters. Doug (National Treasure's Justin Bartha) is the bachelor and husband-to-be. Doug is a genuine nice guy, as we see from the get-go, when he extends an invitation to his soon-to-be brother-in-law Alan (Out Cold's Zach Galifanakis). When we first meet Alan, wearing a dress shirt and a jock strap and nearly french kissing his dog, it is clear this is the guy we can expect the most laughs out of. The pair are joined by Doug's best friend Phil (He's Just Not That Into You's Bradley Cooper) and Stu (The Office's Ed Helms). Phil initially comes across as the carefree a-hole of the group, while Stu seems to be the whipped-boyfriend type. Soon our characters find themselves on the rooftop of Cesar's Palace sharing a shot to start out the night. Next stop: the worst hangover in history.

This movie is hilarious, but what makes it really stand out is the relatability of this group of friends. Anyone who sees movie can relate to at least one of the guys in this quartet. The same might be said about Apatow movies like Knocked Up or Superbad, but The Hangover and its characters come across as more natural. These aren't just a bunch of funny guys, improvising lines... It is a very intelligently written comedy which a group of excellent up-and-coming actors executed perfectly. Until the ending of the movie I found myself wishing that my next trip to Vegas is at least half as amazing and fun. As the story unfolds, even wackier shenanigans present themselves, be it a mysterious naked Asian in the trunk of a car, a hospital wrist band, or Stu's perfectly removed front tooth and new wife. Even Mike Tyson plays a role in their night of mayhem. (I don't like the guy, but he gets some pretty good laughs.) Zany as it is, everything in this movie is plausible, which adds to the relatable quality of the film.




Unlike Apatow's dialogue-heavy films, The Hangover relies upon situational comedy more than wordplay and quips. Even the one-liners were all in support of the situation and story. The same can't always be said about the Apatow flicks and that is why The Hangover was refreshing for me. Don't get me wrong; I enjoy 40 Year Old Virgin, Knocked Up, and Superbad, but the constant comic riffing can get stale quick--especially when it is the some mix & match of the same six actors. Justin, Bradley, Ed, and Zach nail their characters to a tee from the get-go. You believe everything about them, and the things they learn and how they change. My initial impressions of some of the guys were certainly changed by the end of the movie.



There are two movies this summer that I suggest everyone must see in theaters, and The Hangover is one of them. Todd Phillips is back and delivers what is possibly his best flick to date. Only time will tell, as Old School and Road Trip have taken on an almost nostalgic quality when you go back and watch them. One thing is for certain: Apatow and his Funny People have some serious competition to overtake as funniest movie of the summer. It's only June, but with only a handful of comedies yet to be released, it's not a long shot to say The Hangover is possibly the best comedy of the year.

726 Words Published: 21 June 2009

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