Tuesday, 31 January 2012

The Hangover (2009)

The Hangover is a 2009 American comedy film directed by Todd Phillips and written by Jon Lucas and Scott Moore. The film stars Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms, Zach Galifianakis, Heather Graham, Justin Bartha and Jeffrey Tambor. The Hangover tells the story of Phil Wenneck, Stu Price and Alan Garner, who travel to Las Vegas, Nevada for a bachelor party to celebrate Doug Billings' impending marriage to Tracy Garner. However, after being drugged with roofies, Phil, Stu and Alan have no memory of the previous night's events and must find Doug before the wedding can occur.

Lucas and Moore wrote the script after executive producer Chris Bender's friend disappeared and had a large bill after being sent to a strip club. Lucas and Moore sold it to the studio for $2 million, Philips and Jeremy Garelick rewrote the script to include a tiger as well as a subplot involving a baby and a police cruiser, and also including boxer Mike Tyson. Filming took place in Nevada for 15 days, and during filming, the three main actors established a friendship between them.

The Hangover was released on June 5, 2009, becoming a critical and commercial success. It became the tenth highest-grossing film of 2009, with a worldwide gross of over US$467 million. Critics praised the film's comedic approach but criticized it for its vulgarity. The film won the Golden Globe Award for Best Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy, and received multiple other accolades. A sequel, The Hangover Part II, was released in 2011.

The Plot

Celebrating his impending marriage to Tracy Garner, Doug Billings and his friends Phil Wenneck, Stu Price, and Tracy's brother Alan travel to Las Vegas for a bachelor party, staying at Caesars Palace.

The next morning, Phil, Stu and Alan awaken to find they have no memory of the previous night and Doug is nowhere to be found. Stu is missing a tooth, their hotel suite is in disarray, a tiger is in their bathroom, and a baby is in the closet. They find Doug's mattress impaled on a statue outside of their hotel and when they ask for their Mercedes, the valet delivers a police cruiser.

Following clues to their steps, the trio travel to a hospital where they discover they were drugged with rohypnol, causing their memory loss, and that they came to the hospital from a chapel. At the chapel they learn that Stu married a stripper, Jade, despite having a long-term relationship with his mean-spirited girlfriend. Outside the chapel, the trio are attacked by gangsters saying they are looking for someone. They flee and visit Jade, discovering that she is the mother of the baby, before being arrested by the police.

Having been told that the Mercedes has been impounded, the trio is released when they volunteer to be targets for a taser demonstration. While driving the Mercedes, they discover a naked man in the trunk who attacks them and flees. Alan confesses that he drugged their drinks to ensure they had a good night, thinking that they were ecstasy.

Returning to their villa, they find Mike Tyson, who orders the trio to return the tiger to his mansion immediately. Stu drugs the tiger with the remaining roofies and they drive towards Tyson's home in the Mercedes, but the tiger attacks them and damages the car's interior. After pushing the car the rest of the way to avoid the tiger, Tyson shows the trio footage of them stealing the tiger to help them locate Doug. While driving, their car is struck by another vehicle intentionally; the passengers are revealed to be the gangsters from the chapel and their boss, Leslie Chow – the naked man from their trunk – who accuses the trio of stealing $80,000 of his money and kidnapping him. Chow says he has their "friend", threatening to kill him if his money is not returned. Unaware of the location of Chow's $80,000, Alan, with help from Stu and Jade, uses his knowledge of card counting to win $82,400 playing Blackjack. They meet with Chow and exchange the money, only to find that "Doug" is the drug dealer who inadvertently sold Alan the roofies.

With the wedding occurring in hours, Phil tells Tracy they cannot find Doug. Following a conversation with "Black Doug", Stu realizes where Doug is. The trio travel back to their hotel where they find Doug on the roof, moved there on his mattress while he was asleep, as a practical joke by Stu, Phil and Alan. Before leaving, Stu makes arrangements to meet with Jade the following week to pursue a relationship. With less than four hours before the wedding and with no flights available, the foursome race home, with Doug revealing he has possession of Chow's original $80,000. Despite their late arrival, Doug and Tracy are married and Stu breaks up with his girlfriend. As the reception ends, Alan finds Stu's digital camera detailing the events they cannot remember and the four agree to look at the pictures together before deleting the evidence of their exploits.


The film received generally positive reviews from film critics. Review aggregation website Rotten Tomatoes gave the film a score of 78% based on 216 reviews, with an average score of 6.7/10, and awarded their "certified fresh" seal of approval. At Metacritic, which uses a normalized rating system, the film earned a score of 73% based on 31 reviews.

Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times gave it three and a half stars out of four and praised the film for its funniness and comedic approach. A.O. Scott of The New York Times praised Cooper, Helms and Galifianakis for their performances in the film as well as Todd Phillips for its direction. Scott later went on to say that the film is "safe as milk." Mick LaSalle of the San Francisco Chronicle also praised Phillips' direction. LaSalle also praised the film's comedic scenes and called it "the funniest movie so far this year [2009]." Betsy Sharkey of The Los Angeles Times praised the film for its perverseness. Sharkey also said that the film is "filled with moments as softhearted as they are crude, as forgiving as unforgivable." Although Joe Leydon of Variety criticized the film's trailers and TV-spots for its "beer-and-boobs, party-hearty farce", Leyton praised the film for its cleverness.

Conversely, Richard Corliss of Time said that "virtually every joke [in the film] either is visible long before it arrives or extends way past its expiration date" and added, "Whatever the other critics say, this is a bromance so primitive it's practically Bro-Magnon." In his review in the Baltimore Sun, Michael Sragow called the film a "foul mesh of cheap cleverness and vulgarity." Joe Neumaier of the Daily News gave the film 2 1⁄2 out of 5 stars and noted, "Amusing as it is, it never feels real. That may not seem like a big deal — a lot of funny movies play by their own rules — except that The Hangover keeps doubling-down on the outlandishness."Lindy Keffer of Plugged In Online said it was "a movie about how much debauchery a handful of guys can commit — and forget — in one night. There's not much more to it than that." Family-oriented reviewers have harangued the film, noting that Galifianakis said he tried to forbid his own mother from seeing it and that he yells at parents of kids who tell him they like the film.

Many critics noted the weak character development, especially in its female characters. Ebert, despite his praise, stated, "I won't go so far as to describe it as a character study" but that the film is more than the sum of its parts – parts that may at first seem a little generic or clich├ęd, since many other films (such as Very Bad Things) have already explored the idea of a weekend in Vegas gone wrong. Critics also complained about misogyny and stereotyping, in particular the Asian gangster.

The film's premise has several similarities to Dude, Where's My Car? Both films are about "a couple guys waking up after a night of getting trashed, only to find they are missing something important", whose adventures include "a trail of clues, a missing car, dubious encounters with strippers and wild animals, a brush with the law and gangs chasing them for something they don't realise they have."

The Cast

Bradley Cooper as Phil
 Ed Helms as Stu
 Zach Galifianakis as Alan
 Justin Bartha as Doug
 Heather Graham as Jade
 Sasha Barrese as Tracy
 Jeffrey Tambor as Sid
 Ken Jeong as Mr. Chow
 Rachael Harris as Melissa
 Mike Tyson as Himself
 Mike Epps as Black Doug
 Jernard Burks as Leonard
 Rob Riggle as Officer Franklin
 Cleo King as Officer Garden
 Bryan Callen as Eddie
 Matt Walsh as Dr. Valsh
 Ian Anthony Dale as Chow's #1
 Michael Li as Chow's #2
 Sondra Currie as Linda
 Gillian Vigman as Stephanie
 Nathalie Fay as Lisa

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