Monday, October 1, 2012

The Hangover (2009) - What Happens in Vegas....

Three groomsmen lose their about-to-be-wed buddy during their drunken misadventures in Las Vegas.  Then, they must retrace their steps in order to find him.

It is a simple set-up, kind of like "The Lost Weekend" for classic movie fans.  As a buddy movie, it is also reminiscent of "New York, New York" with Frank Sinatra and Gene Kelly or the much more recent "Old School" (which was made by the same producers).

 Angelenos Doug Billings (Justin Bartha) and Tracy Garner (Sasha Barrese) are about to get married. Two days before the wedding, the four men in the wedding party - Doug, Doug's two best buddies Phil Wenneck (Bradley Cooper) and Stu Price (Ed Helms), and Tracy's brother Alan Garner (Zach Galifianakis) - hop into Tracy's father's fancy Mercedes convertible for a 24-hour stag party to Las Vegas.  At first, everything seems to be going well.

Phil, a married high school teacher, has the same maturity level as his students when he's with his pals. Stu, a dentist, is worried about everything, especially what his controlling girlfriend Melissa (Rachael Harris) thinks. Because she disapproves of traditional male bonding rituals, Stu has to lie to her about the stag, he telling her that they are going on a wine tasting tour in the Napa Valley. Regardless, he intends on eventually marrying her, against the advice and wishes of his friends.

Every slacker comedy like this needs a big, fat, slobby guy who just does whatever he wants without regard to what others think.  Galifianakis fulfills that role admirably.  He may not be particularly funny in a classic sense, but he has that gross-out factor that keeps you from noticing how stupid the plot is becoming.

None of it makes any sense, but it is not supposed to.  These films work by smashing expectations of how people should act in certain situations, and smashing our expectations of what situations a normal group of people might find themselves in.  Take a well-dressed man who eats like a pig - there's your humor.  One of the movie posters basically makes Galifianakis look like an actual caveman - that's where the movie is going.

It is one step above fart jokes.  Put a bunch of guys in a deserted mansion the morning after a party, add one chicken walking across the marble floor - instant comedy.  Something done to someone's face to make them look bizarre - laugh-out-loud funny.  Basically, the formula is, put a bunch of normal guys with a few cozy eccentricities of their own into abnormal situations, and wait for the laughs!  It's almost a spin on "Survivor," but without the corny host.

Mike Tyson shows up unexpectedly and steals the movie.  He fits in with all the weirdness.  Naturally, he's just loveable down deep despite the gruesome tatoo on his face.  Do you think he is like this in real life?  Who knows, but you have to hand it to the guy.  For someone who hasn't had a serious fight in 20 years, he knows how to keep his name in the public eye.

This was a big hit which spawned a big sequel.  A fun film to watch with friends, it will make you look hip and current while you think about what you have to do the next day.

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