Friday, June 19, 2009

The Hangover

Todd Phillips, who made the frat-pack famous with Old School, returns with a similar, if not a slightly funnier version of thirtysomethings gone wild.

The plot for The Hangover couldn’t be more packed with clich├ęs. Four buddies head to Vegas for a night of bachelor party debauchery. They wake up, remembering nothing, only to discover that the groom-to-be is MIA. Boring. But the fun of the film is when it deviates from your expectations.

The first hint that this romp may deliver beyond your prospects is that it starts with the end. Then conveniently retraces most of its steps. Another hint is the fact that not a single frame of this film is dedicated to watching the guys get wasted. Think of it as the Reservoir Dogs of drunken hysterics. By not showing us what actually went down, the film plays like a genuine hangover, as the audience tries to put the pieces together right along with the characters.

So, yes, there are a few things that stand out here, but the laughs, for the most part, are pretty plain. Bradley Cooper (the dick boyfriend from Wedding Crashers) cements himself as the next-big-thing, shooting to the A-list with his black suit and slicked-backed hair. Ed Helms (The Office) steals some laughs with a missing tooth, but it’s Zack Galifianakis as the dim-witted brother-in-law that takes the cake. Almost every line he has is delivered with precise comic timing. You’ll be rolling in your seats when Galifianakis questions the authenticity of Caesar’s Palace, or tries to justify his wearing a fanny pack.

If for no other reason, I’ll recommend the film for its closing credits montage. Those ending shots have been stealing most of the film’s buzz, and for good reason. They are easily the funniest moments I’ve seen on screen so far this year. Don’t leave early. B

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