Pros: Funny moments, Las Vegas setting, fast-paced.
Cons: Failed attempts at mushy stuff.
Every summer needs a good, raunchy, R-rated comedy, and The Hangover fits the bill. This recent release centers around the pre-wedding adventures of groom-to-be Doug (Justin Bartha), his best friends Phil (Bradley Cooper) and Stu (Ed Helms), and his eccentric future brother-in-law Alan (Zach Galifianakis). After waking up in a Las Vegas suite with a live tiger, an infant, and a missing groom, Phil, Stu, and Alan must try to parse together the muddled events of the prior evening in a frantic effort to find Doug in time for his big day. Expect debauchery, infidelity, an impromptu wedding, and plenty of cameos by Vegas landmarks.
The Hangover has more truly funny moments than any other movie I've seen this year. I would definitely rank it a notch above both March's I Love You Man and last year's Forgetting Sarah Marshall on the laugh-out-loud scale. I won't spoil any surprises, but most of the fun comes with the unveiling of the guy's various wacky adventures from the night before. The film does a good job with pushing the envelope to get a real laugh where other movies might have stopped at a giggle. There are many scenes that are so awkward/gross/unbelievable that members of our audience exclaimed out loud. Of course, quite a bit of the humor is totally obscene, so the easily offended should probably opt out.
The Hangover features a talented cast of comedians, but in my mind Ed Helms (of The Office fame) steals the show. Helms is perfect and hilarious as a much put-upon dentist with a neurotic, control freak girlfriend who refers to himself as "doctor" at every possible opportunity. To be fair, he is also given some of the film's best lines and gags to work with. Zach Galifianakis is also funny as Alan, albeit in an off-kilter way. Actors with more minor parts who steal the show include Heather Graham as Jade the stripper and Ken Jeong as the flamboyant Mr. Chow.
While The Hangover should fulfill most of your expectations simply by being funny, I do have a few minor criticisms to offer. First, while most of the film is blissfully free of touchy-feely moments, the final twenty minutes or so features a couple of shoehorned-in life lessons and romantic speeches that simply don't work with the overall tone. Second, I could not convince myself to like the highly significant character of Phil even a little. The guy complains repeatedly about his miserable life and wife and son who are apparently horrible for no real reason that viewers are shown. We simply aren't given any sense of his motivation for acting like an oversexed college spring-breaker. Cooper seems to be phoning it in with his portrayal of this "bad boy" in what is basically a less-compelling rehash of Jason Segal's character in I Love You, Man.
Be sure to stick around for the credits on this one. It's the only way you'll get the full story of what went down during the characters' night of debauchery.
Overall . . .
The Hangover is practically guaranteed to make you laugh out loud, or at least giggle. Who cares if the plot is a little flimsy? This won't necessarily be a film you'll remember in five years, but it will definitely be a fun way to spend a couple of hours on a balmy June evening.