On DVD: The Hangover

Just got a copy of this for Chanukah, actually.hangover2

It’s nice to thoroughly enjoy a comedy this decade without catching a single whiff of Apatow. The fact that audiences are eating up the boundary-crossing humor of “The Hangover” this summer and the famous producer of “Knocked Up” and “Superbad” nor any of his cronies (Seth Rogen, Paul Rudd, Jonah Hill, etc.) don’t have so much as a finger print on it might be over half the reason for its praise.

Starring rising leading man Bradley Cooper (“Wedding Crashers,” “Yes Man”), Ed Helms (“The Office”) and stand-up comic Zach Galifianakis, “The Hangover” doesn’t boast the stylings of any comedic actors that we’ve already been beaten to death with by Hollywood in the last ten years and they’re all extremely talented. Their characters are incredibly well-developed and free of too much stereotype, their comedic timing excellent and the concept they’re thrown into so perfect you can’t believe it hasn’t been done before.

Two days before their friend Doug’s (Justin Bartha of “National Treasure”) wedding, the aforementioned characters head out for a night in Las Vegas as do many a bachelor party. But “The Hangover” doesn’t show their night out, instead it takes us straight to the next morning where they wake up to find strange animals in their room, one is missing a tooth and the groom-to-be is missing. And of course they don’t remember a thing.

Todd Phillips, director of “Old School,” another comedy that for its time brought us new comedians and situations keeps the timing and revealing funny moments at a healthy pace. Every time we think it doesn’t get funnier or more ridiculous, it does. The writing team of Jon Lucas and Scott Moore, who delivered last winter’s notable flop “Four Christmases” really hit it big here. Having character retrace their footsteps and discover their debauchery of the previous night rather than showing it gives the trend toward R-rated comedy a new set of wheels. The gags here are nothing all that foreign to us, but with an unfamiliar cast of talented actors it feels pretty new. Everything is just revitalized, given new life because the script really fits the characters.

I didn’t particularly like Cooper previously, but he gets more of a chance to exercise his range with a character that’s not stale. Helms can truly be a foul-mouthed funny kind of guy, but his nerdy girlfriend-whipped character Stu is perfect because it forces him to hold back, therefore making the moments he explodes funnier and more believable. Galifianakis is something else. He’s the new funny we’ve been looking for. Alan is a horribly dumb, outrageously gutsy but sweet character with a child’s heart. Galifianakis plays a wide range of comedy perfectly whether needing to hold back and be dumb and cute or go all out physically.

There are some gaping holes in “The Hangover” like the fact that they are apparently hung over but do not eat or drink the entire film. Also, only Helms’ character gets a true subplot – – everyone else is just there to make us laugh. This isn’t one of those comedies with heart. Instead, we learn to love the characters because they’re funny and we empathize with their ingeniously funny situation quickly. Still, some of the most original comedy I’ve seen in years. And don’t forget the best and most boundary-pushing credits sequence ever. No question now that this is the era of dirty comedy and “The Hangover” delivers some of its finest.

4.5/5 Stars

“The Hangover”
Directed by: Todd Philips
Written by: Jon Lucas, Scott Moore
Starring: Bradley Cooper, Zach Galifianakis, Ed Helms, Justin Bartha


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