Movie Review #691
NOTE: This review regards the unrated version.
Warner Bros. presents…
…in association with Legendary Pictures & IFP Westcoast Erste…
Studio: Green Hat Films
Distributor: Warner Bros.
Country: USA – Germany
Spoken Languages: English
Directed by Todd Phillips. Produced by Dan Goldberg and Todd Phillips. Written by Jon Lucas & Scott Moore.
Unrated, from a theatrical cut rated R by the MPAA – frequent profanity, sexual content, nudity, infrequent drug material. Runs 1 hour, 48 minutes (theatrical cut runs 1 hour, 40 minutes). The Hague premiere on May 30, 2009. Hollywood, California premiere on June 2, 2009. Wide release in the USA on June 5, 2009; and in Germany on July 23, 2009.
Starring Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms, and Zach Galifianakis. Also starring Justin Bartha, Heather Graham, Sasha Barrese, Jeffrey Tambor, Ken Jeong, and Rachael Harris. With credited cameo appearances by Mike Tyson, Rob Riggle, and Todd Phillips.
I don’t know about you, but I think it’s rather ironic that a movie about guys whose memories have faded can be one of the most memorable comedies made so far in the 21st century. We have a ways to go, but so far, “The Hangover” sticks with us mostly thanks to the newness of the story. Four guys (Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms, Zach Galifianakis, Justin Bartha) are out in Vegas for their bachelor party the day before one of them gets married. They wake up the next morning and they can’t find the guy who’s supposed to be hitched in a few hours. Their hotel room’s a wreck, and none of them can remember how it got like that. Their best plan (but not their easiest) is to use evidence from the night before wherever they can find it, but keep the evidence from getting out to anyone, particularly their wives and girlfriends.
“The Hangover” is a wild movie. We’re treated to a whole soundtrack’s worth of contemporary pop and hip-hop music. None of which I like (at all), but it really accentuated the fun in the movie for me. I won’t go drawing comparisons to “Saturday Night Fever”, but the music does offer a nice opening hymn (Kanye West’s “Can’t Tell Me Nothing”) as well as closing anthem (Flo Rida’s “Right Round”). Again, both songs I can’t stand, but it worked here rather nicely. The promotional side of the film isn’t always this terrific, though. “The Hangover” is set almost entirely in Vegas, and it therefore runs into the one inexcusable hardship that even Mike Figgis’s solemn drama “Leaving Las Vegas” ran into: product placement. I’ve been to Vegas. I know they’re just trying to tell it like it is. But to be completely honest, it’s not pleasant to see an advertisement for Products A, B, C, all the way down through Z, blaring in the background (sometimes even the foreground) of every shot.
The interesting plot has our attention the whole time. The unrated version begins to run out of steam a little toward the end, but let’s not mark that as a penalty, especially when the theatrical cut is probably paced perfectly (it’s eight minutes shorter). There’s even a little extra few gags during the credits, to top it all off. The best man (as in, the funniest comedian) here is Zach Galifianakis. His character is thoroughly obnoxious, but to an audience, he’s a hoot. Yes, his stupidity makes for a predictable plot point, somewhere around the midsection, but there’s nothing funnier than some of his antics. When writers Jon Lucas and Scott Moore pick up on nuances even as little as Galifianakis caring about his glasses staying in shape, more than the health of the baby wearing the glasses, their story seems able to convince us that it isn’t exactly about a few simple guys who go nuts one night and have to put their life back together. Perhaps it’s about guys who just want to have fun, and can’t. To them, if we suppose this fictional quartet existed, “The Hangover” is beyond a shadow of a doubt the most embarrassing vacation tape anybody could imagine. Let’s just give them a hand for their making us laugh so profusely.
POSTSCRIPT: I came so close to giving this three and a half stars. It’s one of those movies that isn’t perfect at all, but most definitely is a modern classic. My expectations were greatly exceeded.
THE HANGOVER IS AVAILABLE ON BLU-RAY AND DVD.
Hit the jump for an announcement regarding the 2nd Annual Cinemaniac Awards:
Blue Jasmine has won 2014’s Cinemaniac Award for Best Screenplay of the Year. Woody Allen has proven that he’s now best when he’s not typecasting himself. He’s actually re-imagining his recurring character from the 1980s, embodying him as a woman, and giving him a lot of dramatic depth. The movie is tremendously funny, brilliant, and full of life–in its own little way, of course. Stay tuned for tomorrow’s announcement for Best Supporting Actor.