Saturday, July 25, 2009

The Hangover

So What The Heck Just Happened?

I guess you'll probably know by now the yardstick I use for comedies, and that's if I don't laugh until my tears flow uncontrollably, then it's not 5-star funny. Granted that there wasn't any comedic situation here that had warranted my laughter from the belly and opened my tear ducts, it did have some classic moments that would bring out some genuine mirth, albeit sporadically, though the film managed to fuel itself up to last the 100 minute distance.

Doug (Justin Bartha) is about to get married, and as a rite of passage, his best male pals in schoolteacher Phil (Bradley Cooper), dentist Stu (Ed Helms) and brother-in-law-to-be Alan (Zach Galifianakis) decide that they should have a no holds barred bachelor's party in sin city Las Vegas. After all, whatever happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas. But who would've counted upon a rag-tag group to deliver him there and back safely and on time for his big day, since Phil's pretty much the frat boy leader of the group, just too eager to let his hair down, Stu's toeing the thin line of being the party-pooper, having to deal with an overbearing girlfriend, and Alan's just plain Rain Man dumb, which of course is perfect for some nonsensical one-liners and moments.

After a wild night out which we don't get to see (and so to keep you guessing), Doug's found to be missing, and to add to that, Jon Lucas and Scott Moore's story sets everything up for the events soon to follow, planting elements such as those which you've seen in the trailer – a broken tooth, a baby, a tiger in the bathroom, a hotel suite totally trashed and a stolen police car. Every element links to something that happened in the last 12 hours, and it's up to the trio to establish the series of events from the clues presented, so as to find out where their groom could possibly be.

It plays out like fusion of a comedy and a light hearted mystery, since none of them could even remotely remember what they did (and that too is not a stone left unturned). The fun factor came from how the trio of Cooper-Helms-Galifianakis share some incredible chemistry as boys who discover their hand firmly within the cookie jar, having to untie the knotty mess that they find themselves in. And to add to the delight, a lot of events happening in proper chronological order, have plenty of random bits to keep you tickled pink, before you realize that they all actually made sense, especially when you have enough clues to piece them all together. After this I'm on the lookout for future Galifianakis projects as it seemed that he's now a contender up the Jack Black's niche alley.

Director Todd Phillips had thrown in plenty of the staple profanity and token nudity commonly found in Hollywood mass comedies, and not forgetting racial stereotypes such as drug dealers and effeminate gangster chiefs all for the sake of eliciting some laughs. Something you can credit Phillips for though, is trying to sustain a comedy but unleashing the funny bits in a restrained manner so as to evenly spread out laughter, though the last 20 minutes to its inevitable finale did seem to fizzle out a little, until the end credits roll for that photo montage.

The Hangover boasts a contemporary pop soundtrack, though the winner in the film is of course Las Vegas itself, with the film being quite a shrewd city promotional video, with its glitzy night time neon lights, and showcasing a host of activities one could get into, such as casinos that never sleep, and quickie-weddings in small specialized churches for that purpose. Having spent a week at the same city, it's a treat of course to revisit on screen some of the places I've previously set foot on, and if opportunities present themselves again, I'm pretty sure I'm going back.

Comedy of the year this may not be in my books, but it does have enough to make it pretty delightful to sit through, especially if you're in the company of buddies who share the same traits as the characters, or sharing the same sense of humour.

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