The Only Remaining Question About “The Hangover”? How Much Money Will This Brilliantly Funny Romp Make?
The bachelor party is such an obnoxious, stereotypical concept that men have happily contributed to for years and years. Since it’s such a huge part of real life, it has been covered ad naseum in the movies and the outrageous acts of the men get more and more ridiculous. In “Clerks 2”, there was a donkey show…with a man. “Very Bad Things” featured the accidental death of a hooker. Of course, the king of all bachelor party movies, aptly titled “Bachelor Party”, featured a young Tom Hanks, a hotel suite, Kent from “Real Genius”, and yet another donkey. Apparently, the donkey is huge in the bachelor party world. This reason alone makes me thankful that I did not have one.
Thank goodness that the guys in “The Hangover” decided to throw a party for their good friend Brad (Justin Bartha). If they didn’t, we would never have witnessed the hilarious attempts at detective work by narcissist Phil (Bradley Cooper), pathetic Stu (Ed Helms), and possible mental patient Alan (Zach Galifianakis). Not only is virtually every scene tear-inducingly funny, the movie is told in such an interesting way that the cliched bachelor party in Las Vegas idea is rendered completely moot.
“The Hangover” had many elements involved (other than Las Vegas bachelor party) that could have set it up for potential failure. First of all, it was written by Jon Lucas and Scott Moore, responsible for the trash of “Four Christmases” and “Ghosts of Girlfriends Past”. Second, director Todd Phillips had gone soft on us. After two hit comedies, “Road Trip” and “Old School”, he followed it up with “Starsky & Hutch” and “School For Scoundrels”.
The first thing that makes “The Hangover” a winner is the way the story unfolds. The movie starts out with Phil calling Brad’s fiance to tell him that Brad is gone and they are not going to make the wedding…which starts in five hours. The opening credit sequence is set up almost as if to introduce a horror movie as we see Las Vegas in the morning as Danzig’s “Thirteen” blares. It’s a very dark, moody song that, along with the slow motion shots of the city, actually could give a person a feeling of dread.
The story then flashes back two days and sets up how Phil, Stu, Alan, and Dan get to Las Vegas. It also serves as a way to set up our characters lives without slowing the pace of the flick down, which is the second reason this is a winner. There is not a dull moment in the entire 100 minute run time. If anything, too much happens and you actually can miss jokes due to the previous jokes.
Then, the stroke of genius occurs. Once the guys are in Vegas, the movie fast forwards to the morning after. Phil, Stu, and Alan awaken to a trashed hotel suite straight out of Hunter S. Thompson’s world. Smoldering couch? Check. Live chicken? Check. Baby in the closet? Check. Bengal tiger? Check. Groom? Nope. Dan is missing and none of our guys can remember anything from the night before. The stroke of genius I mentioned? “The Hangover” is a movie about a bachelor party in Las Vegas in which we don’t actually see the bachelor party in Las Vegas.
From there, it’s a comedic detective story as the three idiots try to piece together the events through receipts, hospital wristbands, and ecstasy dealers. There only moment in which this movie falters is the fact that the entire marketing campaign let everyone know that Mike Tyson appears. All I could think about when he showed up on screen is how much better it would have been had I not known he was in it.
Lastly, the movie, like most successful comedies, wins because of the performances. Bradley Cooper could probably get lots of leads in weak Kate Hudson romantic comedies. You know, the ones that Matthew McConaughey takes. Here, he is a complete out of control egomaniac with no regard for anyone, other than he and his friends. Not only is he not particularly worried about the events that took place, he seems to be disgustingly proud of what they have done. It’s yet another character that the entire audience should despise, but Cooper makes you like him.
While Phil is funny, most of the true belly laughs are due to Ed Helms’ pathetic, whipped dentist Stu and the unhinged, socially-inept Alan, actually played with restraint by Zach Galifianakis. Helms has perfect comedic timing as he goes from complete calmness to total panic in an instant. Galifianakis could have easily gotten pretty ridiculous as Alan, but he never goes completely over the top.
“The Hangover” is going to make some massive amounts of cash.This could potentially do “Wedding Crashers”-type business, it’s that good. The audience I watched it with was completely howling with laughter, to an extent that I haven’t heard in quite some time.
Lastly, this is an extremely R rated movie that, once the ending credits get going, borders on NC-17. I won’t ruin the credits for you here, but you definitely need to be sure to stick around. You may never again see a movie with credits that illicit more laughter than the actual film.