‘The Hangover’ (2009) review: What happens in Vegas… usually doesn’t involve tigers, chickens and a baby

‘The Hangover’ will leave you laughing, even if you know you shouldn’t

You know the Vegas saying. And to say it aptly applies to “The Hangover” would be an understatement. But damn, just because it stays there doesn’t mean you need to burn the city down before you leave. And to think the Wolf Pack will be back in Part III when it releases later this year borders on the criminally insane. Still, who out there doesn’t want to recreate this drug- and booze-induced train wreck of a bachelor party?

Because let’s be honest with ourselves: There’s very little redeeming quality to “Hangover.” In fact, you may be offended more often than you aren’t. And therein lies the appeal — crude, abrasive, slightly homophobic and immensely sexist, but appealing nonetheless. It makes you wonder where that appeal comes from. And the simple answer is that we are drawn to this base-form of comedy — where dudes do incredibly stupid things and then blame it on the alcohol. There tends to be one of two reactions: “Oh, dear god, what are they doing?” or “How do I do this for my best friend’s bachelor party?” Fault the perverse brilliant of envious debauchery.

And it doesn’t hurt to have some well-placed, if not realistic, characters. Yes, we all have friends who fit these archetypes: the douchebag pretty boy; the one who shockingly settles for less; the strange, soclaily awkward one you for some reason befriend; and then the somewhat normal one. And having Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms, Zach Galifianakis and Justin Bartha fill these roles, respectively, went a long way in attempting to place a face to the grossly over-exaggerated caricatures they were assigned. Because honestly, most people don’t end up losing the man of honor at his own bachelor party because they got too drunk. A wallet or hotel key card? Sure. The groom? Not so much.

But, again, it’s this backward, blown-out-of-proportion scenario that draws you in. Learning the chain of events that led to husband-to-be Doug (Bartha) being lost in the concrete jungle that is Vegas and then watching the hilarious antics of his friends — Phil (Cooper), Stu (Helms) and Alan (Galifianakis) — as they try to locate him proves to be funnier than it should. It’s probably best not to overanalyze. It may make you question your sense of right and wrong.

But let’s give director Todd Phillips (“Old School”) his due credit: He keeps the plot moving at a great clip, and the writing by Jon Lucas and Scott Moore does little to mitigate the excesses. Which is exactly what the doctor ordered.

Well, that, and maybe just a little less alcohol. Or maybe a little more. It’s hard to remember…

Four Vegas-style stars out of five.

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2 responses to “‘The Hangover’ (2009) review: What happens in Vegas… usually doesn’t involve tigers, chickens and a baby

  1. Pingback: ‘The Hangover: Part III’ (2013) review: This isn’t the Wolfpack you know | Silver Screening·

  2. Pingback: ‘Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates’ (2016) review: Probably should have swiped left with these two | Silver Screening Reviews·

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