Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Movie Review: The Hangover (2009) - 2 stars

The Hangover is a film that, since its release back in June, has become the highest grossing R-rated comedy of all-time. It's not an overwhelmingly powerful statistic, but it does show how desperate audiences across the country (and the world) were for raunchy, mindless Friday night comedy. And that's exactly what The Hangover is.

The movie starts off on a relatively strong note in terms of being both funny and effective in setting up its premise. Although it might not be the most original idea in the world, the story has enough potential with its performers to be a funny movie; but it just doesn’t turn out that way. Doug (Justin Bartha) is engaged to Tracy and his bunch of friends take him to Las Vegas to throw him a bachelor party. The group of friends includes Phil (Bradley Cooper), Stu (Ed Helms), and his future brother-in-law Alan (Zach Galifianakis).

The first night in Vegas is funny enough. Galifianakis has a particularly funny scene on the rooftop of Caesars Palace and the other characters are introduced well also. Some of the funniest scenes in the movie are between Ed Helms and Rachael Harris, who plays Stu's dysfunctional girlfriend Melissa.

Once the group wakes up with their major hangover in the morning, the movie becomes conventional and boring. There are a variety of things in their hotel room, and it seems as if these items were picked from a hat while they were writing the screenplay. The story really isn't as clever as it thinks it is. It seems to throw out a million jokes per minute and hope that half of them work. Even if the some of the jokes are good enough to earn a laugh, it feels as if they are ten minutes apart each time. The jokes are thrown out with no consistency and no direction. It is not disciplined writing.

The performances in the film are good enough to warrant a better script. It seemed to me that Bradley Cooper's character got the short end of the stick in terms of funny lines, but his performance is still watchable. Ed Helms, who is absolutely hilarious on The Office, is perfectly cast for his role and delivers a lot of laughs here. And Zach Galifianakis puts his name on the map as one of the more promising comedic performers we have seen this year. The variety of other cameos includes meaningless characters played by Heather Graham, the very funny Jeffrey Tambor, Rob Riggle, Bryan Callen, and Ken Jeong. It seems as if the writers created a myriad of characters that only had about one good joke each. I feel sorry for the actors that were used for the sole purpose of one laugh and then they seem to disappear.
And I forgot to mention that Mike Tyson makes an appearance. I'm sure about zero percent of the audience has run into Iron Mike during their bachelor parties, so why the audience seems to connect with this mindless humor baffles me.

If you are looking for a stupid movie to watch after a long week at work, maybe give this one a shot. It might make you laugh enough to keep you satisfied. But for those looking for a smart comedy with sharp writing and direction will be sorely disappointed here. Director Todd Phillips takes a step back after Old School with this film. On the other hand, there is already The Hangover 2 scheduled for a 2011 release so hopefully they can improve on their mistakes because there are enough pieces here to create an enjoyable film.


Midgard Dragon said...

How can you give this movie two stars. Do you have any sense of humor?

Danny King said...

Believe me, I had really high hopes for this film but it just didn't do much for me. As much as everyone else liked it, to me it was just not that funny. I don't know what else I can say than what's already in the review.

Rae Kasey said...

What are they doing for the sequel? Is one of the other guys getting married now or what?

Danny King said...

I haven't heard any "plot" description of the sequel yet. It seems that the movie is currently in production however, looking to be released around Memorial Day 2011.

Migard Dragon said...

so then that proves that you don't have a sense of humor. What is a good comedy movie in your mind then?

Danny King said...

That's a little bit unfair to assume I don't have a sense of humor based upon one film, but I have come to realize you are very opinionated.

My favorite comedies are ones that also have dramatic elements where I actually care about the characters. One of my favorite comedies in that genre would be Plains, Trains & Automobiles.

In terms of stupid buddy comedies such as The Hangover, I'd say that the Naked Gun series is near the top of my list.

But overall, the comedies I enjoy most are the ones with elements of conflict and drama like I mentioned before.

Honestly, did you really care if Doug got married or not at the end of The Hangover? I didn't at all and I would be surprised if your answer is yes.

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