Starring: Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms, Zach Galifianakis, Heather Graham, Justin Bartha
Director: Todd Phillips
Writer(s): Jon Lucas, Scott Moore
Cinematography: Lawrence Sher
Original Score: Christophe Beck
Running Time: 100 Mins.
Todd Phillips is a director long been doing the comedy circuit, yet it is only now, with the release of The Hangover, that he is getting the plaudits he so clearly deserves in ranking nicely alongside the Judd Apatow’s of the comedy world. Having previously made Old School, Road Trip and Starsky and Hutch which were, incidentally, all hugely under-rated and overlooked in favour of more populist choices i.e. American Pie, and Anchorman.
Phillips had a minor blip however with 2007’s remake of the british comedy School For Scoundrels, decidedly un-funny and equally poorly recieved Phillips seemed forever to remain in the doldrums, until he teamed up with writers Lucas and Moore whose roster includes Four Christmas’s and Ghosts Of Girlfriends Past, not quite the comedic dream team then but low and behold they might have just put out the comedy of the year…alongside I, Love You Man.
This comparison is no mere coincidence as both comedies share the current theme for very blatant “bromance”, it is in this concept that comedy gold is being constantly mined, as the writers and directors can see a heart in their characters amongst all the, very funny, rude crude jokes. This is by no means a new thing but something which seemed to get lost alot during the 90’s where smut simply became a concept through and through.
So, onto The Hangover, which cleverly drops the usual stag night in Vegas in favour of exploring the titular hangover on the morning after the night before, avoiding the usual and all too often used cheap jokes of the stag night comedy (see Very Bad Things…or don’t) The Hangover follows three friends (Cooper, Helms and Galifianakis) as they try to piece together what happened on said stag night, the catch is they have no recollection of anything due to being accidentally drugged with Rufalin aka roofies (the date rape drug)
To reveal what the guys discover upon waking up, and through the course of the day, would be to rob the film of its out and out hilarity though I think the test of a true comedy is to be able to watch it twice and find it equally, if not more funny, and The Hangover on both counts succeeded, with honours! It is the largely unknown Galifianakis who is bound to be most loved, exhibiting the kind of stupid(but hilarious) innocence that Steve Carrell did as Brick in Anchorman, and I wouldn’t mind betting his career more than equals Carrell’s successes for sheer likeability.
But it is, as with I, Love You Man, the relationship between the guys that make The Hangover such a joy, it’s as if your watching your friends suffer the hangover from hell and not actors, of course it helps that they are all relative unknowns so the stigma that comes with the usual suspects like Vince Vaughan and Will ferrell and aren’t present. Cooper, who I would predict very big things for (he has just been cast in The A Team remake), is a cocky teacher who wouldn’t think twice about stealing from students to fund his trip, yet somehow you empathise with him, hell you want to be his friend making Alan’s (Galifianakis) attempts at doing just that even more touching, in the funniest possible way of course.
If there are criticisms to be levelled they would have to be at the support who really struggle to live up to the standards delivered by the core triumvate! Heather Graham barely registers in the tart-with a heart role and Mike Tyson’s presence, although sniggersome, jars and I was simply left wondering “why?”, and as a sub-plot involving gangsters entered the fray I began to think we were headed for the dreaded latter third comedic slump. But in a Rin Man spoof the funnies just continued to get bigger, The Hangover well adn truly passed the comedic litmus test, with flying colours!
Funny, throughout, from start to finish, if that isn’t an A* comedic endorsement I don’t know what is, but there is heart and whole lot of bromance to be found in The Hangover which nudges it to the top of the Summer film pile, showing that you really dont need giant robots or superheroes to make a great film!