Tuesday, May 26, 2009

The Hangover (***)

The Hangover. 105 mins. R. Directed by Todd Phillips. Written by Jon Lucas & Scott Moore. Starring Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms, Zach Galifianakis, Heather Graham, Justin Bartha, and Mike Tyson.

Though it fails to live up to the promise of its hilarious trailer, The Hangover is a pretty decent comedy with a game cast and a solid premise. But for all the laughs in the movie (and there are a handful), it's no funnier than, say, a single episode of Arrested Development - few things are though. Aiming to recapture the adolescent male vibe he struck in 2003's Old School, director Todd Phillips has found just the right vehicle with the right cast to do so. Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms, Zach Galifianakis, and Justin Bartha star as a group of friends in Vegas for a bachelor party on the weekend before Bartha's wedding. After doing shots laced with roofies on the roof of their hotel, the guys wake up the next morning with all hell having broke loose, and the groom-to-be missing. The remainder of the movie is spent tracking the three guys as they try to piece together the events of the previous night, and figure out how Helms lost a tooth, where the tiger in the bathroom came from, and other assorted oddities. The movie starts strong, and stays that way for a while thanks to the intriguing premise. Even when it's not funny, The Hangover works as a frothy mystery and keeps the audience engaged. That is, until the answers start being revealed, none of which are as interesting as you might have hoped. Blame the screenwriters - the high concept duo previously scripted Four Christmases and Ghosts of Girlfriends Past, and though this is the best thing they've written by a mile, it's still seriously flawed. The big winner here is Galifianakis, whose eccentricities and off-kilter line delivery make him the breakout performer, much like Will Ferrell was in Old School. He's great, and when he's doing his thing, The Hangover delivers the goods.



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