Blu Ray Review: The Hangover (Extreme Edition)

One of those movies that seeminly came out of nowhere to dominate pop culture, The Hangover ended up one of 2009’s biggest comedic hits.  It’s easy to see why, what with it’s hilarious ensemble cast and unique narrative structure.  Starring Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms and (at the time) relative newcomer Zach Galifianakis, The Hangover takes the cliched story of a bachelor party gone wrong, and turns it into an epicly funny mystery.  When the groom-to-be (Justin Bartha)ends up missing after a drunken night of debauchery, it’s up to these three to piece together everything that happened.

As is the often the case, the mystery ends up being more fun than the solution.  If you actually step back and analyze the film, it’s a little too episodic, and doesn’t provide much of a payoff.  However, it’s the journey that matters.  Even if you haven’t yet seen the film, you probably know that their night involved a random baby in sunglasses (always funny), a missing tooth, a tiger, Mike Tyson, etc.  Essentially, the film is cinematic connect-the-dots.  But each dot, as it were, is a hilarious piece of the whole.

The film has a reputation for being a gross-out, hard R-Rated comedy.  I don’t think the reputation is warranted, as I was expecting it to be a lot more graphic.  There’s actually a lot of heart under the surface.  I mean, the movie is definitely profane and it does have some nudity, but considering the subject matter, I was bracing myself to see a lot worse.  And when I popped in the newly released “Extreme Edition,” I really thought I was going to see some shocking material.  Surprisingly, this new edition isn’t really all that different.

This release contains both the theatrical cut, as well as the Unrated Edition.  However, there’s only about eight minutes of new material, and none of it is “extreme.”  It’s as if the marketers were trying to force the film to be something that it’s not.  Which is a shame, because the movie doesn’t need shock value to appeal to people.  It’s a genuinely good movie, and that’s why the film was a success.

That’s not to say that there isn’t some fun material in this new set.  The first thing I noticed when I opened the case was a harbound copy of “the wedding album.”  If you’ve seen the movie, you know that this album ends up playing a critical role in the resolution of the story.  However, the included booklet is mostly the same photos seen in the film.  There might be slightly different angles, but there isn’t a whole lot of added perspective to the story as a whole.  Still, it’s a nice book, and a fun addition.

Also included is a soundtrack sampler, featuring a couple of tracks from the score, as well as “Who Let the Dogs Out,” and a song from “the Dan Band.”  As far as actual features go, there is a picture-in-picture commentary featuring director Todd Phillips along with Cooper, Helms and Galifianakis.  The track itself was moderately amusing and entertaining, alternating between actual insight and simple reminiscing; however, it was a terrible idea to actually show them recording the track on the bottom corner of the screen.  Not only do they block a quarter of the picture, but they don’t do anything compelling visually.  Watching this track is literally watching four guys watching a movie while talking through it.

Other extras include the “Map of Destruction,” which supposedly showcases the real-life Nevada locations where they shot the movie.  There are thirteen icons to click on, and while some have brief features about shooting in that particular location, some just have audio clips.   I was hoping for a little more insight into the process of shooting on location, but all of this material felt more marketing based than anything.

Next up was a feature called “The Madness of Ken Jeong,” which was eight minutes of Ken Jeong improvising a scene.  Jeong can be hilarious in small doses, but eight minutes is a long time, and I grew tired of this feature very quickly.  Other extras include a 35 second montage of the action beats from the film, a boring gag reel, a rendition of the song “Fame” from the Dan Band, and the full musical number “Three Best Friends” as sung by Galifianakis in the film.  I loved this moment in the film, and I actually enjoyed getting to rewatch it as an isolated feature.  The only other feature listed is labeled “More Pictures from the Missing Camera,” but for some reason, this feature wouldn’t play on my Blu-Ray player.  Despite multiple attempts, it just wouldn’t load.

And that rounds out the extras on the Hangover Extreme Edition.  Overall, if you’re thinking of purchasing this film, get it for the movie itself.  The extras just aren’t worth it.  The film itself does have a lot of replayability, however.  On my second viewing, I still found the characters hilarious, and found myself laughing at several little one-liners and asides that I barely noticed the first time around.  The film is packed with jokes, some broad and some subtle, and almost all funny.  As I said, the film’s not perfect, but it’s very entertaining.  I highly recommend it.

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