The Hangover [Film Review]

Film: The Hangover
Genre: Comedy
Rating: R
Company: Benderspink

It seems that America’s love of raunchy comedies comes in waves. We have a short burst where the slogan might as well be “the dirtier the better” and then the conservative side of the nation strikes back for months or years. For instance, we had American Pie, Road Trip, and Eurotrip all come out in a similar time frame, but Eurotrip suffered from the fade of the love of raunch. Then a few years ago we had The Wedding Crashers which completely destroyed at the box office and by many accounts was dirtier than the high school sex romps I previously mentioned. Then, once again, things were pretty tame on a mainstream level (other than our yearly Judd Apatow film), but that’s about to change in a big way with The Hangover.

I think the most captivating idea behind The Hangover is the simplicity of the plot. Most raunchy comedies, especially centralized around guys, involves booze, but this centers on it and that’s perfect. This kind of comedy is about shock and one liners, we don’t need a very deep plot, just something to string the random event together.

As you have probably gathered from trailers, the plot of the film is the best men of a wedding attempting to find out what happened to the groom of said wedding the day after his bachelor party which, of course, takes place in Las Vegas. Unlike recent Apatow and (Kevin) Smith films, there’s very little time spent on set up and conversation fillers used to give us one liners, but instead, we’re thrown right into the preparation/leaving of the gang and their trip to Vegas. This is quite a refreshing take on what most are calling “post Apatow comedy era.” You don’t need to be overly witty, just quick witted.

The casting, in my mind, is brilliant. In classic raunch style (minus Wedding Crashers) we’re given relatively unknown actors to carry the film and it really works to immerse you in the insanity of the world. Ed Helms, best known for his role as Andy on The Office (US Edition) is the dirtiest of all the characters with the worst language and a nagging girlfriend. It’s such a 360 from the character he creates for Must See TV that you can’t help, but to be taken aside by it. In addition, Bradley Cooper, who plays Phil and seems to lead the trio on the hunt, has a presence that leaves you wondering why he isn’t a household name already.

Though, even with all the laughter from Helms and Cooper, no one can hold a match to Zach Galifianakis. Playing the role of Alan Gardner, the bride’s brother, his awkward stature and hilarious approach to both physical and vocal comedy is completely refreshing. Personally, I’ve been follow Zach for a few years now and it’s nice to see his first big role be one in which he is able to display his own comic style. If you think he’s funny here, see him live, it’s even better.

The story itself, though a bit by the numbers near the end, is a hilarious romp that will leave you either disgusted during the credits or rolling on the floor laughing. I’m not categorizing this as a film only for the young because my parents, both in their 40’s, absolutely loved it and for different reasons than I did.

This is one Hangover you don’t want to be without.

James Shotwell
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