Movie Review: "The Hangover"

Warner Bros. Pictures “The Hangover” is directed by Todd Phillips, “Old School”, which got me a little excited to seeing this movie, but unfortunately Phillips failed to hit his mark. This was no classic by any means and fell flat when I noticed this had all been done before.

I was worried the first time I saw the trailer as there are many movies that follow this formula, and in fact, there was a direct-to-video movie in 2006, “Bachelor Party Vegas”, that dealt with a group of friends celebrating a bachelor party while getting into trouble along the way.  Hmm… okay well the plot was the same making me figure the moral of the story will most likely follow.  Fortunately “The Hangover” does not end the same.

The idea of the movie is simple.  Four buddies drive to Las Vegas for friend Doug (Justin Bartha) bachelors’ party.  What was meant to be a one fun night in Vegas turns into a full blown out adventure when none of them remember what happened the night before.  After waking up in their suite, which was a mess, they realized they have lost Doug who is supposed to be getting married the next day.

After what seemed like a long portion of the movie, the audience finally finds out that the three buddies left, will be spending the rest of the movie looking for Doug. At that moment is when it is apparent that this movie is nothing new. There is nothing original about it, but three crazy friends added with a crazy surrounding like Las Vegas made it easy to create wild and hilarious escapades.

The gang of friends is not the greatest cast of actors. There is of course the outspoken, loud, and free spirited friend played by Bradley Cooper (He’s Just Not That Into You”, “Nip / Tuck”). His other good friend is played by Ed Helmes most known for his role on “The Office”. Helmes character bares no difference to his dorky and awkward role on the NBC sitcom. The third buddy is Doug’s future brother-in-law played by comedian Zach Galifianakis (“What Happens in Vegas”).

This cast of characters did a fine job with what they were given, however I am sure there was plenty of improvisation that played a key role that wasn’t delivered like it was in many past films in the same category.  It’s quite obvious that the filmmakers were trying to capture some of the success that films like “Old School”, “The 40-Year-Old Virgin”, “Superbad”, “Blades of Glory”, “Pineapple Express”, and other similar films have had.

“The Hangover” is just another one of these ridiculous, outlandish, raunchy comedies. This is not necessarily a bad thing.  I actually love these types of movies if done right.  This film never quite got where I was hoping it would go though. I could go on for days with movies that have done this in the past, but all you need to do is take one actor from one of these films and follow their film credits.  Most share at least one film together that feels just like the other. This one is no different.  For example, the hilarious Ken Jeong plays a role in “The Hangover” and is known for having roles in many of the same type of the films with the same actors.

I definitely cracked up at some parts and was grossed out by many. With that alone, the movie was successful. Although, I found myself thinking that I just wanted them to find their friend already and get the movie over with.  It just wasn’t anything new and exciting. I am positive there will be plenty of people in the right demographic that will absolutely love this film. In my head I can just imagine a bunch of guys sitting around the tv watching “The Hangover” while drinking some beers and laughing hysterically. This film will do fine in the right setting.

There is plenty of mindless physical comedy with exciting action accompanying it that keeps this one entertaining. I never seemed to mind if Doug got home in time to get married, but I stayed entertained. Some of the comedic timing seemed off and maybe a little awkward toward the beginning. Luckily it started to flow a little better after the friends began their adventure. I don’t know why there is so much frontal nudity these days, but I guess it keeps the audience laughing.  I however, am over it. Let’s try to find a new approach to make us laugh.

At first I thought this was terrible timing for this movie to come out with Will Ferrell’s “Land of the Lost” and Jack Black’s “Year One” coming out soon, but I failed to notice the PG-13 ratings on those. I predict “The Hangover” to do well, but not be as memorable. These other movies have a chance to make a lot more in the box office as they have a broader audience and more can see it.  The R rating at least has a chance to pull another crowd in even though it leaves it more restricted. Time will tell.

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Joel Covey
Joel has been writing for SoCalThrills for the past decade covering entertainment, events, and theater since joining the site. He is a CSUF alum, studying within the Communication and Radio / TV / Film colleges.