Director: Todd Phillips (Old School, Road Trip)
Writers: Jon Lucas, Scott Moore
Starring: Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms, Zach Galifianakis, Justin Bartha
MPAA Rating: R
Running time: 100 min.
Feeling like the multi-plexes are strangely devoid of quality comedies that actually have a laugh factor of more than one for every thirty minutes? You and me both. Quality jokes are hard to put together; even harder to follow through with and harder still to get the butts in the seats during the summer with the onslaught of “mindless” cinema being released. Luckily, The Hangover seems to be doing all three – and doing it fairly well.
Low-brow, pretty standard plot line for a comedy: four buddies head to Vegas for a bachelor party and the time of their lives. We see them have a drink before hitting the town and then flash forward to waking up on the floor the next morning. The room looks like Hunter S. Thompson spent the summer there and the groom is missing. With no recollection of the previous night, the three “survivors” head out in search of their friend; retracing their steps with what clues they have: an abandoned baby, a missing tooth, a hospital bracelet and splitting headaches. Hijinx and hilarity ensue.
Directed by Todd Phillips (Road Trip), you obviously have to prepare yourself for some pretty juvenile humor. He’s about as adolescent as it gets, so check your maturity at the door. When you’ve got Zach Galifianakis (who makes a pretty good sized splash here) and Ed Helms (from the U.S. version of “The Office”) you know the low-brow humor will permeate throughout most of the screen time. This isn’t to say that’s a bad thing… just sayin’.
It’s clear that none of these guys could carry a film on their own, but working together the chemistry mostly works and they are able to play off of each other fairly well. Since each character does bring something different to the table in terms of personal problems and/or home life, there actually is a little bit to delve into with each of the guys which actually makes you better able to care or at least sympathize with one or all of them. Not that this is some deep introspective on the 30-something, male life, but at least there is more here than simply a bunch of college kids acting dumb for two hours. We’re actually interested in what will happen if they do manage to make it back to suburbia.
While the movie is certainly worth the money simply for the laugh factor, there are definitely bits that don’t work so well. For starters, the first 15 minutes or so I was a little worried. The set-up isn’t quite as fun as it could be and I sat pretty much straight faced until we get to Vegas; but that problem is remedied once the plot line begins. And no matter how much I tried to go with the flow, some of the jokes and characters (mainly “villains”) that show up here and there throughout the movie just aren’t funny. They’re used to fill in some blanks or as surprise cameos, but it’s mostly throw-away material.
While certainly not a classic by any stretch, The Hangover works well for what it is; a solid comedy with laughs that outnumber the dimes you fork over. The main characters are fun and likable and the situational bits that work, far outweigh the sketches that don’t. For my money, I don’t see any other options right now if laughs are what you’re looking for in the theater. Oh, and Heather Graham is still looking mighty fine.