About the Night Before
With his wedding just a few days away Doug (Justin Bartha) and his buddies Phil (Bradley Cooper - Yes Man), Stu (Ed Helms) and Alan (Zach Galifianakis - What Happens in Vegas) head off to Vegas for a secret bachelor party. But after a night out in the bright lights Phil, Stu and Alan wake up in a foggy haze as they can't remember anything about the night before; how a tiger came to be in their bathroom and why Stu has lost a tooth. Worse of all Doug is missing so the three of them head out to try and work out what the hell happened the night before and find Doug before he misses his own wedding.
"The Hangover" is best compared to a seriously superior version of "Dude Where's My Car" as it takes that night of debauchery, in this case a drunken bachelor trip to Las Vegas, and then follows it up with the hung-over men trying to remember what happened the night before. And let me tell you it is all very insane. When Stu wakes up to a chicken strutting by him in their hotel suite through to Alan finding a tiger in their bathroom it sets the benchmark high for the insanity to follow as they try and discover not only what happened to them but also where Doug is. It's like a no holds barred attack as one insane revelation leads to another as we get some expected moments such as a Vegas wedding but then some which are unforeseeable and I am not going to reveal them as it will spoil what is at times a surreal movie.
The thing is that "The Hangover" could have ended up like a long list of set piece gags as the writers try and come up with one outrageous gag after another, but it's all tied in together. One revelation leads them to another and so on, so that whilst the situations that these young men find themselves in are bordering on the ridiculous they work well together. It is quite masterful that despite many of the situations being completely outrageous and in reality unbelievable there is something strangely believable about it, that the drunken escapades got so out of control that anything could have happened.
But what helps is that "The Hangover" gives us characters which we grow to like from the almost self centred Phil, the hen pecked Stu and the not all there Alan. These are almost caricatures, they are recognizable people but are just a little bit OTT to make them entertaining, in particular the not all there Alan who provides so many of the best laughs. There is also the quite nice way that these three different men through their forced endeavours to find out what went on grow to be friends. Like with the humour this could have ended up fake and forced but it is believable that a closeness forms between them, in a similar way the bond is shown in "City Slickers".
At the heart of "The Hangover" though are three very good performances with Zach Galifianakis standing out as the slightly out there Alan. It's one of those characters which at times you feel wrong for laughing at but you can't help it because he delivers such a great amount of the humour. Alongside him are Bradley Cooper as Phil and Ed Helms as Stu, both delivering equal amounts of humour yet making both their characters uniquely funny. All three work well together with Justin Bartha making up the bachelor party as the bride groom Doug.
But as much as these actors for the most lead the movie it is also the varied supporting characters which make just as bigger impact. Heather Graham crops us as a Vegas stripper, Rachael Harris is excellent as the nagging Melissa and Ken Jeong is priceless as the camp Mr. Chow. It's the collection of all these different characters and many more which keeps every scene fresh and interesting
What this all boils down to is that "The Hangover" is an insanely funny comedy. It gives us a wild adventure of one joke after another but cleverly ties them all together into a strangely believable tale of a drunken night and the hilarious consequences.