Heading to Las Vegas the weekend before his wedding, groom Doug (Justin Bartha) and his three groomsmen Phil (Bradley Cooper), Stu (Ed Helms) and Alan (Zach Galifiankis) have a night planned. But after an initial drink they awake the following morning to find a scene of devastation having gained an unknown baby and lost Doug. Using the clues scattered around the hotel room they begin searching for answers and ultimately to try and find their friend before his impending wedding day.
Arguably the most influential films of the last decade, The Hangover redefined the standard Hollywood format and style of comedy films. Directed by Old School maestro Todd Phillips, it’s notable for being one of the first comedy films not to show the actual events of a boy’s night on the town, instead preferring to present us the characters the day after. It’s like a hilarious and filthy whodunit mystery¦ with tigers¦ and Mike Tyson.
The real highlight is the script, or the seeming absence of it. Obviously there is a script, but the chemistry shown between Helms, Cooper and Galifiankis is so effortless and charming that it would be easy to imagine that it was all truthful and made-up on the spot. It’s difficult not to get carried away in their back-and-forth verbal jousting and among all of the jokes in The Hangover, it is the verbal, nuanced comments between them that are the funniest.
There is a long-standing after-effect that has seen a lot of male-dominated comedies drawing inspiration from the negative elements of The Hangover’s characters (Due Date and Horrible Bosses comes to mind), blindly and incorrectly grasping at the wrong elements that made up this monster box office hit. If the 1980s comedy genre revolved around friendly anarchists, then this generation will be remembered for mean-spirited know-it-alls. At least here they are likable enough to root for in the face of the increasingly absurd situation, but the following slew of comedies, including the sequel have not fared nearly as well.
Despite the disappointing shift in comedy that it sparked, The Hangover is still one of the funniest films in the last decade. Todd Phillips more mature direction and a wonderful central trio help it attain a high level of laughs, while making everyone involved that bit more recognisable. There really was no need for sequels, but at least we got to hear more of Ed Helms wonderful impromptu singing. All together now, what to tigers dream of¦