Sunday, July 5, 2009

The Hangover

This is quite possibly the funniest movie of the year. It features a rather mundane premise, 4 friends go to Vegas for a bachelor party. I know, I've never heard of anything like it either. What sets The Hangover apart, though, is that it is excruciatingly funny, and our four main characters work incredibly well together.

There really was no star of this movie, though Zach Galifianakis and Ed Helms elicited the most laughs. That wouldn't have worked, however, without Bradley Cooper and Justin Bartha playing the straight men (kind of). The movie begins straight away around the climax- with Phil (Cooper) on the phone telling Doug's (Bartha) soon to be wife that Doug is missing. Like the characters themselves, we have to spend the entire movie learning what led up to this point. This is an interesting narrative idea to put us in the same shoes as the characters. It's certainly not original, but it does succeed in making ordinary events funny.

The movie follows Phil, Alan (Galifianakis)- Doug's soon-to-be brother-in-law, and Stu (Helms) as they travel around Vegas trying following clues to recount the night before. Each turn leads to a more outrageous escapade, of which they remember nothing. Mike Tyson, a tiger, a marriage, a baby, and the Asian mafia all somehow played a role in their night out. These run-ins range from being uproariously funny, to kind of flat. Without exception, however, the funniest moments where when it was just the three of them arguing.

Galifianakis essentially played himself- bringing his self-deprecating outsider humor to a role that is equal parts puppy-dog endearing and "what the hell?" randomness. Imagine a more soft-spoken Jack Black, with an actual dynamic range. Ed Helms, the other highlight, is a completely housebroken boyfriend, who more than any other makes a series of very unfortunate decisions over the course of their night of debauchery. During all of this he just means well.

The movie hearkens back to Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, in that we are put in the same exact position of blind hindsight as the characters. Instead of being a drug induced pursuit enlightenment, The Hangover is simply a drug induced pursuit of a good time. The Hangover promises to be one of the funniest movies of 2009.


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