Saturday, June 27, 2009

The Hangover

"Stooges...in the 21st Cen-tu-ry!!!"

I'm being perfectly serious when I say that "The Hangover" is a smutty, gonzo version of "The Three Stooges." The Todd Phillips comedy (and it is very funny...in a frattish vein) is about four guys making a road-trip to Las Vegas for a bachelor party. Onboard are the prospective groom, Doug (Justin Bartha), his buddies Phil (Bradley Cooper), a less-than-committed grade school teacher, and Dr. Stu (Ed Helms), a dentist in a relationship that would set anyone's teeth on edge, and Doug's prospective bro-in-law, Alan (Zach Galifianakis), a train wreck of arrested development... in fact he has been arrested, and has to stay at least 200 yards from any school...or Chuck E. Cheese.

The boys make it to Vegas, and after a rooftop toast atop Caesar's Palace, things go black. When they wake up in the expensive suite they've rented for the night, the place is a shamblesHunter Thompson would throw them out—Stu's missing a tooth, a couch is smouldering, there's a chicken wandering the premises, Phil has a hospital bracelet on his wrist, there's a tiger in the bathroom, a baby in the closet, and when the valet brings up their car...it's a police cruiser. No one can remember...in their throbbing heads...how all this happened.

Oh!
And Doug also appears to be missing.

Good thing, too, or there'd be no movie. Estimating that they have a "12 hour window of opportunity" for losing Doug,
they begin to re-trace their steps, and the situation and the night's shenanigans get increasingly bizarre. In fact, you could say "The Hangover" may be the Ultimate "Incredible Mess" movie (if "Dr. Strangelove" weren't already there) and, as I say, it might as well be The Stooges as the remaining trio fall into the traditional Stooge roles. Phil is Moe, the abusive authority figure, Stu is Larry the Whiner of the group, and Alan is the off-kilter Curley, the brother-in-law from another planet.

Along the way, they also have to find parents for the baby, an owner for the tiger, and try and get Dad-in-law's prized car back in one piece...paying for the suite would be nice, too. Oh, and Stu—who's on a short leash—can't let his disapproving fiancee know that they went to Vegas, rather than the tour of wine country that he told her.

And...they have a deadline: they have to get back for the wedding (hopefully with the groom).

Lest anyone get the impression that my Stooge analogy means it's rollicking fun for the whole family, no-no-no-no-no-no-no-no-no-no-no-no-no-no-noooooooooo! Amidst all the slapstick (a couple people get hit in the head with a car-door... including the baby) there's a pervasive stream of obscenity and extreme tastelessness, just this side of a Kevin Smith movie (hey...Vegas). The good news is Phillips has good comic timing—things pay off very well and the performers maximize the dialogue—Ed Helms has never been this funny—and, as a bonus, they've found a decent role for Heather Graham...who stays mostly clothed!

In Hollywood (or Vegas), that's almost a miracle.

"The Hangover" is a Rental

2 comments:

John said...

Hmm... I actually wound up discussing the 3 Stooges in relation to this film as well: When I was trying to explain to my less-than-thrilled girlfriend why I liked it even though she hated it.

Yojimbo_5 said...

Galifianakis was a hoot, wasn't he?

It's very Stooges right down to the nincompoopiness.

I don't know, the gals in the Oak Harbor crowd were yukking it up as much as the guys. And I remember listening to a comparison of this with "Year One" on TBTL—the guy loved "Year One" and hated "Hangover," and the gal hated "Year One" and loved "Hangover."

I also think it depends on how much you like to see the wheels wobble on the roller-coaster ride you're on.