by NIR SHALEV
Director Todd Phillips’ Old School (2003) has become a cult phenomenon much like its obvious inspiration National Lampoon’s Animal House (1978). On that note I remain in the minority of movie goers that hates Old School and finds it grossly infantile and unfunny. That’s why it gives me particular pleasure to announce that I love Phillips’ new film The Hangover because it works as a smart comedy and also on every other level.
Four guys go to Las Vegas to throw one of them a bachelor party. They toast to the evening and wake up the next morning to find a baby cooing in the hotel closet, a tiger sitting in the bathroom, one of the guys is missing a tooth and the groom is missing entirely. Unable to recollect any memories of the previous night they begin to backtrack, finding clues within their pockets and everywhere that they go to try and figure out how and why the groom would be missing. The premise works because it’s relatively plausible and the performances, although comedic contain a certain touch of urgency and concern.
The cast is fresh and sometimes, in order for a big Hollywood film to work one needs to employ new faces. The handsome leader of the pack is Phil (Bradley Cooper); Stu (Ed Helms) is the dentist with the missing tooth who also had, apparently, married a prostitute during that magical night; Doug (Justin Bartha) is the missing groom; and Alan (Zack Galifianakis), perhaps the best part of the film is the bearded man-child. As the gang finds more and more clues the film becomes funnier and yet more frantic, but without going over the top. It’s a fun ride where, surprisingly within every minute we find ourselves laughing.
The Hangover is widely considered to be the funniest comedy of 2009 and is easily one of the most entertaining.
The DVD contains just the film but the Blu-ray disc contains many special features including a gag reel, a “map of destruction” in which the audience can track the main characters’ progression throughout the film, deleted scenes, and more backstage shenanigans from the crew.
Other new releases this week: G-Force, The Goods: Live Hard, Sell Hard, Inglourious Basterds, Taking Woodstock