Proof Review: The Hangover (2009)

Release Date
June 5, 2009
Director
Todd Phillips
Screenplay
Jon Lucas
Scott Moore
Distributed By
Warner Bros. Pictures
Budget
$35 million
Comedy
Rated R for pervasive language, sexual content including nudity, and some drug material
100 minutes

The Hangover
09fourhalf-stars

If “The Hangover” taught me one thing (besides not getting roofied in Las Vegas) it is that hype can both make or break a film. This theory is the main reason to see films right when they come out. Otherwise, positive reviewed films fail to live up to the standards set by their raving audiences. This can also work to a films advantage, when people voice their dislike towards a film, thus lowering the expectations.

Hype can take away from what films really are and how audiences would organically react to a film without outside interference. However, we cannot live in a vacuum and avoid rants and raves. All I am stating is that hype (what you hear about a film before actually seeing it) can play a large part in how you initially perceive a film. But there are those rare occasions when you walk into a film with absolutely no hype and it becomes an instant classic. “The Hangover” was one of those films.

Now let me also be clear, “The Hangover” in its first month was an instant classic. As soon as hype built around it as the funniest comedy ever made, people’s spirits started to drop when it didn’t live up to that hype. In its original run, however, “The Hangover” got splendid reviews and became an instant part of pop-culture.

The biggest element going for “The Hangover” was the original story telling. We have all seen films that start at the end and proceed to take us back through the entire story, dating back as far as Sunset Blvd. “The Hangover” does this well, and then plays with the idea of linear story telling and skips over the night of the bachelor party. This links the audience with the characters, who blacked out and missed the night too, leaving both parties (the characters and the audience) picking up the pieces.

The details of the film are absolutely striking, with so many events from the night before caring on into the adventure. There is a tiger in the bathroom, a baby in the closet, teeth missing out of mouths, satchels with tons of casino chips inside and, the element that drives the entire film, the groom-to-be missing.

The film is well casted, one of the main reasons these events are funny. Bradley Cooper as the cocky, grab-life-by-the-balls pretty boy Phil, Ed Helms as the nerdy, “I-just-want-to-go-home” Stu, and Zach Galifianakis socially awkward, over-the-edge Alan play off each other so well, the entire film and the funniest moments out of the film come from their interactions with one another.

Zach Galifianakis has always been a favorite comedian of mine, so to see him in a major role causes for celebration. Having him along for the journey and being the source of many of the laughs throughout the trip (the satchel, fake jerking off the baby, and his constant child-like wonderment), is something truly unique and I am glad a film finally captured that off-beat nature of Galifianakis. Not since “Out Cold” has a film really brought out the eccentric man behind the beard.

Not only is the leading cast stacked, but the supporting cast is brilliantly casted as well. Whether it be the father-in-law-to-be Jeffrey Tambor talking about Clamydia, the sadistic police officer Rob Riggle having a chubby kid shoot Galifianakis in the face with a tazor, or the gorgeous breast-feeding stripper Heather Graham. There is so much going on in the film that a well-known and strategically placed cast is the perfect binding to bring the film together.

The films produces what most people would take for a bad night in Las Vegas. We all hear the stories about Vegas, some good, some bad, but you know that every so often something like “The Hangover” occurs and this is simply one of those tales solidified in a film. The film also plays with expectations, never quite letting the audience get too comfortable with what is going on.

“The Hangover” is unafraid to go places and that is what comedy is made of. It plays the line between hilarity and raunch better than any comedy in recent history and after multiple viewings, the film still holds most of its original appeal. Though the hype may have killed its original glory, for me, the film will always have a special place in my heart and will always be high on my list of best comedy films ever.

 

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