Sunday, 4 October 2009

'The Hangover' Review

Another bromance movie following in the Hollywood tradition of recent years, The Hangover stands at the crossroads between 2 hollywood genres - the "what stays in Vegas" movie, and the road trip movie, as 4 male friends go away for a weekend of pre-wedding debauchery, but end up losing the groom and the plot. Indeed director and co-writer Todd Phillips' first feature was in fact 2000's Road Trip, and his second was the hilarious 'Old School', and it particularly shares the latters theme of misbehaving buddies old enough to know better.
The girls are an afterthought, either villains, super bitches, or sweet caring and perfect like Heather Graham's hot stripper/mom. But the accusations of mysogyny are missing the point. This movie's not about the girls, but the friendships between the dudes.

If the territory is familar, the execution is not without its' charms. In particular, the charming weirdness of Alan, Tracy's brother, with his fat Jesus appearance and his sweet, innocent yet insane personality (Zach Galifianakis) a counterpoint to the worldly cool of Bradly Cooper's Phil, and geeky dentist Stu (played by Ed Helms). These 3 musketeers spend most of the movie trying to piece together what happens the night before (when Zach's character accidently slipped them all a date rape drug instead of Ecstasy), which somehow involves a real life tiger, an actual baby, a missing family heirloom/wedding ring belonging to Stu, and the mysterious disappearance of their friend and husband-to-be Doug (Justin Bartha).

As road movies go, The Hangover is a fun ride, hitting all the right notes with such fun ingredients, including a cameo from an air-drumming Mike Tyson, but the film never quite lives up to its' potential, and is likely to provoke laughter among the more literal-minded American viewers at which it is aimed, as the US reviews of this movie largely confirm. For the more discerning British viewer, however, some goofy ingredients like a tiger, a hooker with a wedding ring and date rape drugs will not compensate for the hit and miss humour of the movie, and a slight shortage of wittier banter or richer characterisation. For me, Phil isn't enough of a bastard, Stu isn't enough of a dork, and Alan could be just a touch weirder - in the directors' similar former movie Old School, the characters played by likes of Owen Wilsion, Will Ferrell and Vince Vaughn are just bigger and brasher, making for more fun.

The Hangover, then ; like a great breakfast with some awesome ingredients after a great, messy night out, only slightly undercooked.

Hack Rating 3/5

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