Friday, June 26, 2009

The Hangover

Sometimes you just had to be there. That's how a lot of Todd Phillip's The Hangover feels, and we weren't there. It's a good premise- 4 buddies on a bachelor party booze binge in Vegas who remember nothing of the wild evening that left the groom-to-be MIA, the room destroyed, and both a tiger and a baby in their midst. So it's a mystery as they backtrack their missteps to find their buddy and get him to the church on time.
The buddies are Bradley "Wedding Crashers" Cooper, a slimy schoolteacher who steals his kids' field trip dough for Vegas; Zach "Comedians of Comedy" Galifianakis, the creepy idiot manchild of a brother-in-law; and Ed "Daily Show" Helms, a pussy-whipped dentist about to propose to a nightmare woman. The insanity they awake to is epic; there's a tiger in the room, an abandoned infant, someone's missing a tooth, someone is married, and the room looks like Hunter S. Thompson visited. The characters are well-played, but Zach Gonocacockus steals the show; with a mountain man beard, puppy dog eyes and questions like "did Caesar really live here?" he brings a low-key hilarity that saves the film.
The other scene-stealer shows up much later and is making a name for himself for this sort of thing- Ken Jeong. He was the snarky ob-gyn in Knocked Up, and the King Argotron in Role Models; here I won't reveal when he appears or why, but he's definitely deserving of bigger roles and I can't wait to see them. The other cameos are a bit forgettable- Heather Graham is a stripper with a heart of gold, and Mike Tyson shows up to reclaim his tiger, and to settle the question if he should ever appear in movies that aren't documentaries. The answer is no. The film's other misstep is the hip-hop soundtrack, which was a funny idea for a movie about a bunch of whitebread nerds ten years ago when Office Space did it. Not so much this time.
What I did like was that the movie wasn't very cruel and had some affection for its characters. I've only seen snippets of Todd Phillips' other movies like Road Trip and Old School, as was not impressed. The Hangover, however, shows promise. He makes great use of small roles like Jeffrey Tambor as the father-in-law who takes the slogan "What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas" to heart. Other times the movie feels like an episode of "Reno 911," and too much is explained. The concept of not knowing what happened last night is funnier when we really don't know what happened; it can never live up to our imaginations, and it's a rookie mistake to show things best left a mystery.
So, I don't know why Ebert loved this so much except that he's been very forgiving since his recent brush with mortality. He's still my favorite movie critic, but now I feel like I need to remove a half-star or so from every rating. In the old days, you'd just have to knock down movies filmed in Chicago a notch. Now it's mostly everything.

Rating: 3 pasties out out of 5

2 comments:

Action Flick Chick said...

I wasn't expecting much from this movie at all, so I was nicely surprised when it turned out to be funnier than anticipated.

Jay Amabile said...

Wait..Tommy...did you just say you only saw "snippets" of Road Trip and Old School? Damn, you better get on that! lol You're missing out! Esp. Old School = classic!

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