Wednesday, 18 August 2010


"Some guys just can't handle Vegas"

My reluctance to become involved with alcohol even during my more adult years has been questioned by many people who I know and socialize with, asking why I never drink? One reason is because of taste and the other is headaches. The latter excuse provides the perfect set-up to Todd Phillips' night-out comedy THE HANGOVER (2009), which lists all the right reasons about why hectic nights out are not good for the head and this becomes the basis of one of last year's biggest surprise hits which features an escaped tiger, a baby in a closet, a naked Asian locked in a car boot and Mike Tyson singing "In The Air Tonight". Surprise winner of the Golden Globe for Comedy/Musical, this foul-mouthed, disastrous and laugh-out-loud success has earned itself the recognition as one of the best comedy films of recent years with its rude but cleverly written moments that place its characters in unlikely positions with the most random situations that add to their woes. This being the formula of director Phillips' way of telling audiences who mostly have been involved with nights out gone wrong, just how mad a night out can really be....

Potential bachelor Doug (Justin Bartha) is preparing to marry his lover Tracy (Sasha Barrese) in a lavishing wedding ceremony to be held within a couple of days. He has organized his stag-night with two of his friends Phil (Bradley Cooper) and Stu (Ed Helms) as well as Tracy's bizarre brother Alan (Zach Galifianakis) to travel to Las Vegas, stay at an expensive but neat hotel and to make the most of their time in Vegas by partying hard. Phil is an English teacher who has his womanizing ways despite being married and having kids. On the other hand Stu finds himself being placed on the spot by his bitchy wife Melissa (Rachael Harris), who was unfaithful to him whilst on a business trip, yet Stu chooses not to be confrontational with her when she questions what he is up to. As the four men are acquainted with each other during their car journey, they travel to Vegas booking into their hotel before making a toast on the roof about the night that lies ahead. It is for the simple reason that we know that the night is going to go wrong for the facts of what will happen the next morning........

That morning, Phil, Stu and Alan wake up to find their hotel room badly trashed with a tiger, a chicken and a baby all finding their way in there but the question is, where is Doug? Over the course of the film, the three men have to recollect the events of that night in which they were so drunk that they can't remember what happened to the groom-to-be. There is answers to seek about that night as well such as how did the guys end up in the hospital or how did Stu lose one of his teeth or how did the tiger and baby especially get into their hotel room. Twists and turns beckon for the men with Stu earning the biggest shock by discovering that he has married a prostitute named Jade (Heather Graham) who turns out to be the mother of the baby, and is also wearing Stu's grandmother's Holocaust ring (leading to Alan's legendary response "I didn't know they gave out rings at the Holocaust!"). The randomness of the situations that the guys find themselves in and trying to remember from that night only adds to the humour even more such as stealing a police car which leads to a showdown with officers at the police station, a naked Asian Mr. Chow (Ken Jeong) jumping out of Doug's car and plotting to get revenge on the guys and ex-boxing champion Mike Tyson turning up at the guy's hotel room to give Alan a knockout punch! But the question of if they'll find Doug in time before getting him to his wedding only adds to the nick of their time desperation with finding him so to avoid an embarrassing situation for all of them.

The bromantic aspect of The Hangover adds to the reasoning of why it was so popular but it also appealed to many male audiences who could see themselves in these male characters. The three major characters are played hilariously well by Cooper, Helms and Galifianakis respectively while Bartha, though not in the film as much, still manages to make us enjoy him for the fact that though he misses out on the guy's antics he is as pretty much the benefit of the story. Cooper whilst a good looking actor manages to play Phil as a decent guy with the calmly taken one-liners compared to a similar type character he played in WEDDING CRASHERS (2005) though he was playing a git in that film. Ed Helms also shines as the luckless dentist who gains sympathy from the audience for suffering from his nasty girlfriend (though he at least gets his chance to humiliate her in the film's ending) but his subtle relationship with Jade adds to the nicer side of the film. Graham herself who was one of Hollywood's underrated sex symbols of the last fifteen years with BOOGIE NIGHTS (1997) and KILLING ME SOFTLY (2001) enjoys a good comeback with her role that makes her likeable compared to Stu's partner Melissa who is played with such venom by Rachael Harris. And yes even Mike Tyson gives himself a lot of popularity especially with his rendition of 'In the Air Tonight'. However it is Galifianakis who steals the film as idiot Andy who has a fair share of the film's funniest dialogue; as far as fat funny guys go, many of them (such as Chris Farley) made the ill-fated mistake of playing dumb in a sharp fashion: hurtful jokes and silly one-liners. However he plays his character straight and the laughs are given more heart e.g. when he embraces Doug while nude, the act seems innocently awkward rather than deliberately awkward, and that's what makes it so funny.

Standout scenes in the film are few and far between as well as quotes but obviously the 'baby masturbating' scene with Andy messing around with baby 'Carlos' is too rude to not laugh at, Stu's song about Doug is quality lyric writing while the credits scene showing the photos of what happened that night add to the satisfaction of whoever predicted what the guys may have done, they could expect it properly with that sequence. The negative points are few and far between but certainly some 'random' parts in the film are either too over-the-top or stupid e.g. Mr Chow naked in the car or getting the tiger into the car. Chow himself is played very madly by Ken Jeong who does his character justice but is made too stereotypical for an Asian villain compared to the villain in OLDBOY (2003). Nevertheless a fabulous script ensures that this film becomes a classic amongst many and while we may live in an era saturated with unnecessary sequels, I actually watched The Hangover hoping to see these guys again hence the idea of The Hangover 2 being a go-go. And looking forward to a sequel is a rare feeling these days.


At 25 August 2010 at 20:21 , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Brilliant film. top review craig mate


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