2009 Comedy

STARRING Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms, Zach Galifianakis, Justin Bartha

WRITTEN BY Jon Lucas & Scott Moore

DIRECTED BY Todd Phillips

The Hangover doesn’t really re-invent the wheel, but it spins it to tremendous effect. With no name star on the poster and a budget less than 1/4 the usual summer fare, it manages something few movies have yet this summer: be fun, fresh, surprising and very entertaining.

Setting out to Vegas for a bachelor party, 3 groomsmen wake up in a renovation-bound hotel suite with a tiger, a baby, no groom and no memory of what happened during their night on the town. The further they go in retracing their steps to locate the groom, the less it seems they’ll ever be able to forget a night they just can’t remember.

Right off the bat, from one of the film’s first scenes, is a reference to a similar-themed dark comedy from the mid-90s, the very horrid and questionable Very Bad Things. And upon complete viewing, said reference feels like both a reassurance to the viewer and statement to writer/director Peter Berg: THIS is how you pull-off a Bachelor Party Gone Wrong movie. I can’t say I’m a fan of Todd Phillips’ previous films (Old School, Road Trip) but the grossness factor and irreverence of this one becomes inoffensive due to the setting and cast, and extracted more than a few laughs out of me.

The whole thing might’ve felt stale and forced if populated by better-known actors or a cast usual to this type of comedy. But the trio of unknown-yet-experienced leads attack the material with extreme confidence and a fresh dose of reserve that allows for the MAYBE improbable succession of events to sweep them along and make the film work. Even a risky Rain Manreference turns out a refreshing moment of pure gold. Lots have been said of blue-eyed hunk Bradley Cooper and outrageous funny-man Zach Galifianakis, it seems to me though that Ed Helms is actually the anchor who brings this unlikely ensemble together; his take on the straight man who’s in way over his head brings nothing new, yet it feels unique and tons of fun.

Talk around the water cooler has Lindsay Lohan-Ronson refusing the part played in the film by the still uber-hot Heather Graham, feeling the script beneath her and bound for failure. The Hangover raked in 8 times its budget to become one of the year’s top money makers. Lindsay’s last film was so bad it went straight to video. In Hollywood, you fail upward and succeed downward, it seems…

8.5* out of 10

Watch the Trailer

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