The Principals: Todd Phillips (director). Bobcat Goldthwait (writer). Bradley Cooper. Ed Helms. Zach Galifanakis. Heather Graham. Justin Bartha. Mike Tyson. A baby. A tiger. Ken Jeong.
The Premise: A
group of friends take their buddy on one last Vegas romp before his wedding and wake up the next day remembering nothing, short one friend, and in all sorts of trouble.
Is it Good: No it isn’t good. It’s fucking champion. A film like this has no right being this good but The Hangover is an absolutely and wholly mainstream comedy that is funny as hell, smart, quotable, and one that delivers on repeat viewings. In the past decade the genre has become a place to follow talent. You stick with guys like Apatow, McKay, Phillips, and Mottola… you’re usually in good shape. Shit, if you expand that circle to actors you have possibly the best group since the 70’s and that first burst of SNL energy. That said, just about all those guys have gotten big and have expanded their work and in some respects spread themselves too thin [extended family work like School for Scoundrels, Forgetting Sarah Marshall, and Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story being examples] to maintain that quality control. The Hangover could have been a Strange Wilderness. Compare the casts.
But it’s not. It’s a bona fide classic. It’s not a 40 Year Old Virgin [which has aged very well and was a game changer] or Anchorman [the best comedy of the decade] but it’s right below them in very good company and the best Todd Phillips comedy by far. Yes, including Old School which is fine but in a different class.
There’s some amazing chemistry between the leads, something that defies the norm. Cooper delivers in spades here, and it’s his performance I spend the most time watching over repeat viewings. Being a virtual unknown to most of the world, Zach gets the big moments and its his performance that’s a game changer but Cooper and Helms make it possible for Zach to strut his stuff. Really amazing work from these three.
Great moments, a good balance of really dumb and really smart comedy, and a pitch-perfect cast up and down. This is that rare pop-culture sensation that’s worth every accolade.
Here’s how good this flick is. It has a stunt casting celebrity cameo and not only does it not ruin the film but helps make for a few solid laughs.
Is it Worth a Look: Yes. Several.
Random Anecdotes: Sasha Barrese, who plays the wife-to-be, is not unattractive. I love the scene with Eddie at the wedding chapel, especially his little diatribe about the women he can obtain for the boys. I can tolerate Heather Graham here, which is saying something. Any women in the real world even close to being similar to Ed Helms’ squeeze should be packed into a large cannon and fired into the sea at a high rate of speed.This is actually a really well-shot film.
Cinematic Soulmates: Old School. Very Bad Things. Koyaanisqatsi.
State of Play
3000 Miles to Graceland
The Last Supper
Things to do in Denver when You’re Dead
World’s Greatest Dad
Friday the 13th, Part 3