Movie Review: The Hangover

Starring: Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms, Zach Galifianakis, Justin Bartha, Heather Graham
Directed By: Todd Phillips
Written By: Jon Lucas & Scott Moore
Warner Bros., 2009
R; 100 minutes
2.5 stars (out of 5)


Picked this one up On Demand (and in HD to boot); it wasn't as funny as I thought it would be, given all the hype about it.

Simple enough story: four friends--or three friends and a hanger-on (played by Galifianakis) who eventually morphs into a fourth friend--go to Vegas for a night of partying before one of the pals (Bartha, recognizable from his stint in the National Treasure movies) gets married. But apparently the [wolf] pack has so much fun, they can't remember anything the next morning, including where they left the groom-to-be. Hilarity ostensibly ensues, though not a ton of it.

Cooper stars as chief friend Phil, something of a jerk who thaws and softens a bit as things play out. The character development is really subtle here; you might miss it if you weren't looking for something more to the movie, which at times I desperately was.

Helms' character Stu has the deepest back story. He's a dentist with a bitchy and controlling girlfriend (Rachel Harris) that he plans to propose to at the upcoming nuptials. Phil--who says he hates his own life, which includes marriage and a child--berates Stu periodically for what he considers a terrible idea; namely, being at all involved with this harpy of a woman. Stu's plot line is the only one with an overt resolution, at least where this particular relationship is concerned. I won't say more because I don't want to spoil any additional plot points for those who haven't seen the movie but want to.

Galifianakis is generally considered the break-out star of this film, and rightfully so. His character Alan tags along with the others, as he is the bride-to-be's brother, a friendless sort of socially awkward weirdo complete with overgrown hair and a bad sense of personal style. But he goes from being cringe-worthy to somewhat warming as things start happening, and eventually emerges as a semi-hero.

One of the best things about this movie is that it featured--at length--a tiger. I love cats, big and small.

I was sorry that Bartha didn't have more to do, but as he's missing for most of the film . . .

In the end, I call the movie average, which is why it gets 2.5 stars. Decent character arcs but not nearly enough funny. Still and all, an okay flick for a night when you need some levity and nothing you have to concentrate too hard on.

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