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Philly2Philly Philm Review: The Hangover

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from left to right: Galifianakis (with baby), Cooper, Helms
Starring:
 
Bradley Cooper
Ed Helms
Zach Galifianakis
Heather Graham
Jeffrey Tambor
 
Director: Todd Phillips
 
Running Time: 100 minutes
 
Think of Superbad, American Pie, and Road Trip all rolled into one with an adult twist. That's what you get with The Hangover. Directed by Todd Phillips (oddly enough- the director of Road Trip, Old School, and Starsky and Hutch), the film chronicles the days of three groomsmen (Cooper, Helms, and Galifianakis) who take their friend (Justin Bartha) to Vegas days before his wedding for his bachelor party.  The only problem is, the three awake one morning without the groom, one of them is now married (gotta love those Vegas wedding chapels), and one has a hospital bracelet.  The group then desperately sets out to find their lost friend so they can all return back in time for his wedding.
 
Philadelphia native Bradley Cooper (Alias, Wedding Crashers,Nip/Tuck) perfectly plays the role of Phil Wenneck, the party goer/school teacher/family man  who oddly enough is the voice of reason amongst the group and their surreal circumstances of events that transpire throughout the film.  Despite Cooper's strong presence, the real scene stealer is Zach Galifianakis, who easily drew the biggest cheers from the audience during the film's screening. His character Alan Garner (who is only on the trip because his sister is marrying the groom) gets the group into the most trouble during their stay in Vegas, but nonetheless redeems himself as the film draws towards its climax. While the group is not close knit when the film begins, the circumstances as well as the disappearance of their friend brings them together, and they discover more about each other than they thought they would or even originally intended during their Vegas romp.
 
What makes The Hangover different from the previously mentioned movies is that even though the respective characters in those films (for the most part) were cognizant of their actions during their misadventures, the groomsmen wake up one morning having absolutely no recollection of what had happened the night before, and not even a clue of how to go about finding their missing friend. They have nobody they can depend on or look to answers for but themselves. As a result, they embark on another crazy journey to as they try and put the pieces together.  During their time in Vegas, the group encounters a tiger, a stolen police car, a stripper (Graham), a baby, a sarcastic doctor, a wedding chapel, the Asian mafia (played marvelously by Ken Jeong), and Mike Tyson.  The movie doesn't drag and constantly keeps you laughing without the expense of cheap gags.
 
It is quite raunchy at times, but The Hangover doesn't rely on this to keep the interest of the viewer at the expense of a cheap laugh. The plot is very smart (yet unrealistic) but despite its absurdity, the problems that the characters experience in their everyday personal lives make them likeable and also relatable.  Most guys can relate to the character of Stu (Ed Helms of The Office), who constantly has to lie to his less than tolerable girlfriend (Rachael Harris) of his whereabouts. And almost everyone has their own real life version of Alan: the guy who doesn't quite fit in with the rest of the gang, but is nonetheless grandfathered in or is related to somebody in the group.
 
At the end of the day, The Hangover is extremely enjoyable and worthy of your admission. And if you can't get enough, word around Hollywood has Warner Brothers making plans for
The Hangover 2.  
 
 
Philly2Philly Phinal Rating: ***1/2 stars out of *****