A few weeks before The Hangover dropped, there were rumblings on the web that this was going to be big. It was rumored to be something along the lines of The 40-Year Old Virgin, a crass, unexpectedly funny blockbuster. One of these things is not like the other and vive la difference!
The Hangover skips right over the 12 year-old humor motif and moves right through to crass. Actually, it shoves itself in one end of crass and out the other. The film’s hard edge is what’s giving it the buzz – some of the stuff they do in this movie no one ever thought anyone would have the cojones to write, let alone act out on film.
Written by Jon Lucas and Scott Moore, and directed by Todd Phillips, The Hangover is about four men who go to Vegas for a bachelor party, and wake up the next morning with absolutely no idea of what went on the night before. There’s a tiger in the bathroom, a chicken clucking around, one of the men has lost a tooth, there’s a mattress on the roof of the hotel. Of course one of them got married. Does anyone go to Vegas in movies and not get married?
It isn’t that The Hangover is a great film. It really isn’t. But it’s funny. It’s funny in that way that makes you almost embarrassed for laughing at all. It never lets you off the hook for thinking what you just saw or heard was funny. And it does all of this without relying on the usual fart jokes and plethora of un-funny gay references. There are probably a few of those in there somewhere, I’m not going to lie.
The main conflict of the film is that, by morning, three of the four men can’t find the one who’s supposed to be getting married in two days. Doesn’t it sound like something Matthew McConaughey would star in? If he had, it might have been a career-changer for him.
The cast reigns supreme, with Ed Helms, Bradley Cooper, Justin Bartha and especially Zach Galifianakis who steals the show as the messed up, sensitive but completely bizarre Alan. He’s the bride’s brother and tags along in order to buddy-up to the cool dudes. Galifianakis cooly delivers lines like “I’m not supposed to be within ten feet of a school” without overdoing it, coming off like a John Belushi in Animal House minus the animal.
It is no wonder, then, that The Hangover beat back Up to become the highest grossing film of the weekend. Word of mouth is spreading fast. It isn’t really made for 12 year-old boys, but that won’t stop them from seeking it out in droves. In fifteen years time, The Hangover will be that movie people recall as a milestone in and of itself. They’ll wonder where they were in life when they saw The Hangover.