The Hangover (2009) July 29, 2009Posted by Dragan Antulov in Film Reviews.
Tags: Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms, Heather Graham, Justin Bartha, Todd Phillips, Zach Galifianakis
A Film Review
Copyright Dragan Antulov 2009
In these increasingly cynical and nihilistic times it is refreshing to see Hollywood film that doesn’t try to sell illusion, or at least provides content that resembles real life. Inspired by allegedly real life events, THE HANGOVER, 2009 comedy by Todd Phillips, tells a simple but believable tale about events that most of the audience, in one way or another, can relate to.
The plot of the film begins with Doug Billings (played by Justina Bartha) going to bachelor party in Las Vegas, accompanied by two of his best friends – schoolteacher Phil Wenneck (played by Bradley Cooper) and dentist Stu Price (played by Ed Helms) – and his future brother-in-law Alan Garner (played by Zach Galifianakis). Four men plan to have good time in Sin City, but their plans are apparently executed too well when they wake up next morning in a completely trashed hotel room with a live tiger and crying baby. To make things even worse, there are only three of them – Doug is nowhere to be seen. Doug’s friends, who don’t remember what happened, now have to find him and during their quest they not only have to face consequences of their depravity but also enter into various unpleasant and dangerous situations.
THE HANGOVER proved to be very successful comedy at the box-office, but it wasn’t particularly funny. The script Todd Phillips co-wrote with Jon Lucas and Scott Moore had couple of good scenes, but most of them were average at best. Characters were cliched, especially in case of Stu whose relationship with over-controlling girlfriend (played by Rachael Harris) meets rather predicatble end. Character of Alan, on the other hand, is perhaps too odd for the general tone of the film; it appears that scriptwriters flirted with idea of describing him as pedophile only to balk fearing viewers’ backlash.
What makes THE HANGOVER watchable is the story, because it features ordinary (at least, in most cases) people in extraordinary, yet quite believable situation. It is hard to find a person who didn’t do something stupid and regrettable in their lives and audience can empathise with characters faced with consequences. THE HANGOVER works not because it is a comedy, but because its unimpressive comedic content is framed by much more interesting detective story. Film becomes even more intriguing by approaching much darker genre territory. Those viewers who watched VERY BAD THINGS – another film about Vegas vacation going terribly wrong – can feel suspense because filmmakers until the very end leave all options open about Doug’s ultimate fate. This flirting with darkness, if done with little more bravery, could have resulted in much better film. However, despite some missed opportunities and thanks to Phillips’ good direction and good acting, THE HANGOVER deserves recommendation as a film that would provide much better time to audience than to its protagonists.