Let’s begin at the end: the credits sequence is the funniest, and the most outrageous finale in ages. I’ve rarely seen an audience sent out on quite such a high. It’s such a spectacular coup, it puts a flattering gloss on a surprisingly ingenious but nevertheless uneven black comedy.
This is the third movie in six months produced from a screenplay by Jon Lucas and Scott Moore, and it’s so much better than either Four Christmases or The Ghosts Of Girlfriends Past that you have to wonder how much of the credit should go to director Todd Phillips (not that his recent track record is exactly stellar: since Old School he’s committed Starsky & Hutch and School for Scoundrels to the remainder bins of DVD history). According to Hollywood gossip he and Jeremy Garelick (The Break-Up) did a substantial but uncredited rewrite.
Whoever may be responsible, something went very right on this one. The cleverly structured script begins three quarters into the story, with Phil (Bradley Cooper) phoning Doug’s fiancée from the middle of the desert outside Las Vegas to confess that the bachelor party got a little out of hand. He’s pretty badly beaten up, and so is her dad’s prized convertible. Worse, though, they won’t be back in time for the nuptuals scheduled that afternoon. They have lost the bridegroom.
Phil is a teacher, cynical, ready for a good time. Stu is a dentist, a square, but a loyal friend. Alan is the odd one out, a weirdo who has only been invited along because he’s Doug’s brother in law. It’s Alan who has the bright idea to lace their booze with drugs. Shortly after they toast a night they’ll never forget, they wake up to find they can’t remember a thing.
There’s a chicken in the bedroom, a tiger in the loo, and a baby in the closet. The suite is trashed. The guys are sick. And Doug… Doug is nowhere.
What’s nice about the movie (I use the term “nice” loosely) is that the more they find out as they try to piece together the clues, the worse things get.
Obviously this brand of crude guy-comedy (and it is a thoroughly phallocentric movie) is not for everyone, but it’s rare to see one put together with such fiendish glee. Phillips gives the visuals a slick, high gloss sheen, and never allows an ounce of sentimentality to spoil the fun.Interesting, too, to see a mainstream comedy by and large bypass the star route. You may recognise Bradley Cooper from He’s Just Not That Into You, and Justin Bartha from National Treasure, but neither is a household name. Most studios would probably have earmarked this one for Owen Wilson and Ben Stiller, Seth Rogen and Jason Segel, or a combination along those lines. Instead they’ve gone the cheap route, assembled a cast of promising newcomers, and recognized that the concept (and the trailer) is enough of selling point.
If that was a gamble it appears to have paid off handsomely. The Hangover has opened to excellent business in the US. Rightly so. It’s not a movie I would recommend to my grandmother, or yours, but if you’re at all intrigued by the trailer, know that the movie does not disappoint. And whatever you do, don’t walk out before the end credits.
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