Wednesday, September 9, 2009
The Hangover **
Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms, Zach Galifianakis
Heather Graham, Justin Bartha, Jeffrey Tambor
The bachelor party is the heterosexual male ritual by excellence. During it, the groom-to-be is indulged by his friends with the last moments of utter freedom he will have for as long as the marriage lasts.
The bachelor party in Las Vegas, is the only location where Hollywood sees fit to fulfill this heterosexual male ritual.
In "The Hangover" we miss the actual party, but wake up with the guys the morning after amidst what can only be described as disaster.
Cocky schoolteacher Phil (Cooper) calls bride-to-be, Tracy (Sasha Barrese) to let her know that her fiancé Doug (Bartha) has gone missing. With only five hours left before the wedding, we go back in time two days trying to uncover what the hell happened.
Doug and Phil left Los Angeles with nervous, nerdy dentist Stu (Helms) and Tracy's weird brother Alan (Galifianakis); after a couple of Jager shots at the Caesar's Palace roof, they wake up to find their $4,200 a-night-suite completely shattered, one of Stu's teeth missing, a tiger in the bathroom and a baby in the closet.
With only twenty four hours left to find the groom, and the title physiological effect ailing them, they set out like frat boy detectives to uncover what went wrong.
The plot, like many before it, indulges in all that is crass, loud and politically incorrect (baby masturbation should not be as funny as it is when delivered by Galifianakis) and while some of the situations work out for great comedic relief, most of the movie fails to click.
The ensemble is great, Cooper stretches out his pretty boy-ness to the max (his cockiness is disturbingly charming sometimes), Helms gives the movie a soul of sorts (even if his character is forced to enact some over the top couple drama with his possessive girlfriend played by Racahel Harris), Galifianakis gives the kind of performance deemed to achieve eternal emulations and Graham turns in a surprisingly sweet performance as the hooker with a heart of gold (she channels Julianne Moore's Amber Waves from "Boogie Nights").
Even if their distinctive personalities get a chance to shine, you never really know how is it that they all became friends in the first place because honestly the one thing they have in common is that they are guys.
And it is through this where the film has both its greatest ally and foe.
For some guys in the audience the film will feel like constant deja-vus and remind them of how they bonded through shameful experience (no morality tales here, even the ending gives the guys something to cheer about).
Some others though will see the film as a representation of everything that might result terrifying for men(morning after babies, drunken marriages, insane significant others, small gangsters who can kick their asses, Mike Tyson...) -one might even say the whole plot is a subconscious manifestation of the groom's fear of commitment- and wonder why the hell is this marketed as a comedy when it should be a horror movie.