The Hangover

Directed by: Todd Phillips

Starring:  Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms, Zach Galifianakis, Ken Jeong, Justin Bartha, Heather Graham, and Jeffrey Tambor

What do tigers dream of when they take their little tiger snooze? Do they dream of mauling zebras, or Halle Berry in her Catwoman suit? Don't you worry your pretty striped head, we're gonna get you back to Tyson and your cozy tiger bed. And then we're gonna find our best friend Doug, and then we're gonna give him a best friend hug. Doug, Doug, oh, Doug, Dougie, Dougie, Doug, Doug! But if he's been murdered by crystal meth tweakers, well then we're sh*t out of luck. – Stu’s Song

With the release of The Hangover III and the conclusion of the trilogy, Sobriety Test Movie Reviews is doing a retro review series on The Hangover movies.  The Hangover falls in line with the “adults behaving badly” comedic theme of such films as Old School, Wedding Crashers and BridesmaidsThe Hangover is absolutely one of my favorite comedies of all time.  It is ridiculous, rude, crude, and it will bring tears of laughter to your eyes.

In the film, Doug (Justin Bartha) is on the verge of marrying his wealthy fiancé Tracy (Sasha
Barrese).  His best friends Stu (Ed Helms) and Phil (Bradley Cooper) are treating him to a wild bachelor party weekend in Las Vegas.  Stu is an uptight dentist who is involved with domineering control freak Melissa (Rachael Harris).  Phil is a married teacher, but comes across as a fun-loving, hot playboy.  Unfortunately for the guys, Doug has to bring along his future brother-in-law Alan (Zach Galifianakis).  Alan is special-- he is an eccentric adult man-child who has a penchant for saying and doing fairly outrageous things.

The four guys (a.k.a. the Wolfpack) check in to Caesar’s Palace and set out for a wild night of drinking, partying and general debauchery.  Alan, Stu, Phil and Doug toast each other on the rooftop as their night of fun begins.  The next morning when the fellows wake up in their hotel suite—it is completely trashed, there is a tiger in the bathroom and a baby in the closet.  None of them have any memory of what happened the previous night, and unfortunately Doug is missing. As the trio sets out to find Doug and piece together fragments of their night, they encounter hilarious police officers, Mike Tyson, and an Asian crime boss, among other interesting characters.

The Hangover is a ridiculous movie, but it is pure fun. The dialogue is fast-paced and you have to actually view the film multiple times to catch all of the comedy gold because inevitably you will laugh so hard that you will miss some gems.  There are scenes in this movie that I have seen many times, but each time, I laugh and laugh. 

Even with an outrageous and creative premise, the film would not work without a stellar cast, and The Hangover cast delivers.  Bradley Cooper has been around for years and was in such films as Wedding Crashers, Failure to Launch and Yes Man.  However, it wasn’t until his breakout performance as the sexy pretty boy leader of the Wolfpack that he truly broke out as a star.  In addition, Zach Galifianakis became an overnight sensation in his role as the lovable, yet slightly insane Alan.  Rounding out the cast is The Office’s Ed Helms, who stepped out of television life and made his mark as Stu. Helms’ song about Mike Tyson’s tiger is one of the most randomly hilarious scenes in the film.  Moreover, there is a fantastic, believable chemistry between these three actors that adds to the magic of the film.

With all of that being said, if you are looking for amusing or interesting female characters, then watch Bridesmaids.  The principal female characters in The Hangover are a shrew, an “escort” and a boring, privileged bride.  My college feminist critical theory professor would have a field day with the film.  However, I will take it for what it is—an entertaining, original, politically incorrect comedy.  The Hangover earns a sober rating.  Drink water so you can enjoy the ride!