‘The Hangover’ is an average film. The screwball comedy caper has been done before, often much better, and there are no real surprises. You know how it’s going to end, it rarely takes any risks and it doesn’t even really have much worth saying. The value of friendship when one of your friends slips you a date rape drug? Really?
Having said that it is an awful lot of fun, is well acted (particularly by Zach Galifianakis, who plays Alan) and has a great deal of charm. Phil, Stu, Alan & Doug are for the most part likable characters who just happen to be stupid. That ought to put this either in the camp of ‘Sideways’ (it doesn’t) or something like ‘The Cannonball Run’, but director Todd Phillips plays it cautious, and tries to find a thoroughly unnecessary compromise between screwball and sane. The result is a film which tries very hard to be funny, and with either a sharper script or less taut direction would probably have managed it. It’s gently funny, without being the laugh-a-minute piece it seems successfully to be marketed as right now.
Phil, Stu and Alan are Doug’s groomsmen for his impending wedding to Jeffrey Tambor’s beautiful daughter Tracy. And they go to Las Vegas for a once-in-a-lifetime stag do, they wake up the following morning with no memory of the night before, a trashed hotel suite, a tiger, a baby and no Doug. Their hunt for their missing friend takes them to camp gangster Ken Jeong, hooker-with-a-heart Heather Graham and Taser-happy cop Rob Riggle (Stu/Ed Helms’ stablemate from The Daily Show). It’s a shame that the character development is glossed over, because this would have worked much better in the vein of ‘Sideways’, and that isn’t a reflection on the actors, who to a number are very well cast. Bradley Cooper as Phil is perhaps given the least to make something of, but he acquits himself well (particularly with his shirt off), Helms plays the stereotypical, straight-laced foil very well, but it’s Galifianakis who stands out as the is-he-an-idiot-or-a-savant Adam, the friend responsible for all of their troubles, as well as their way out of them. To say he’s going places after this is an understatement.
It’s an enjoyable, if not outstanding film. Not worth making much of an effort for, but even though it’s not a constant laugh it has plenty of heart. 7/10