Thursday, 2 July 2009

Review: The Hangover

Year: 2009
Director: Todd Phillips
Screenplay: Jon Lucas, Scott Moore
Starring: Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms, Zach Galifianakis

Synopsis is here

It's rude, crude and full of good timing. I had a despite being somewhat underwhelmed, I found myself having more than just the odd laugh with The Hangover. Movies such as this one can easily crumble on their hook alone. The Hangover is a worth while watch due to it's on the accuracy of it's comic moments, some amusing set pieces and a cast who may not yet very recognisable to it's audience. The last point being a real winner for me as we are now given a refreshingly different group of actors to befriend. So instead of your Blacks, Farrells and Rudds, we get Cooper, Helms and Galifianakis. It's a good change. The comedy remains high but the expectation of certain pratfalls and moments disappear.

In my opinion Todd Phillips does comedies relatively well and The Hangover is no exception. Like many of his other films (Old School, Starksy and Hutch) Phillips has the film on a brisk pace. keeping the laughs coming while keeping the film from going down the wrong track. It's easy for a film like this to become overloaded with pop culture references and shock tactics but Phillips keeps his cool and the film stays on course towards it's conventional (yet amusing) ending.

Phillips commands the ship well but the kudos does go to a very dependable cast who, despite having cliched roles are extremely likable throughout. Zach Galifianakis is the the supposed "breakout" role and has some great moments but it's very easy being the "weird guy". No for me the larger applause goes to Ed Helms. He has the difficult role of being the smart guy who loses his shit....and lets be honest, there's nothing funnier at times than the smart guy who loses his shit. Bradley Cooper also gets the thumbs up from me has the incredibly smug school teacher Phil. Having seen (and loved) Cooper in the excellent (read: cancelled by fox) Kitchen Confidential playing a similar character, I knew he'd carry a movie like this with ease. Cooper shows why he's been pick to be Face in the new A team movie and I fully welcome him into the role.

The films leads really make the film gel. Their comic timing show why so many "frat" films fell apart at the seams. Those three (with added support from Heather Graham and a Mike Tyson Cameo) really got me to dig the film.

With this said. I've laughed harder at other films this year. I found Drag me to Hell and Observe and Report to be funnier films. Observe and Report was funnier from a personal standpoint, while Drag me to Hell takes it's outrageous set pieces to their peak. This doesn't make The Hangover a bad film by any means but unfortunately Todd Phillips has not directed a film with a set piece as bizarre as a possessed devil goat. Tough Beak Todd.

But this brings me to why I was underwhelmed by the film. As funny as I found the film, I was surprised at the amount of restraint it has. My favorite scenes involved a taser, a young child and Zach Galifianakis but for me nothing seemed to beat that and that's quite early within the movie. I mentioned that Todd Phillips keeps the film on the right track but like his earlier comedies he fails to take the movie off the rails. For me to describe's funny, but not funny as fuck. But unlike many other films, Phillips keeps it consistently amusing until the end and personally that a good thing.

I'm not going to watch The Hangover if I can watch Ghostbusters, Airplane or otherwise instead, But in a disappointing summer season which contained Transformers 2 and Angels and Demons, it was good to see something that actually entertained me.