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HANGOVER (director: Todd Phillips; screenwriters: Jon Lucas/Scott Moore; cinematographer: Lawrence Sher; editor: Debra Neil-Fisher; music: Christophe Beck; cast: Bradley Cooper (Phil), Ed Helms (Stu), Zach Galifianakis (Alan), Heather Graham (Jade), Justin Bartha (Doug), Rachel Harris (Melissa), Mike Epps (Black Doug), Ken Jeong (Mr. Chow), Jeffrey Tambor (Sid), Sasha Barrese (Tracy Garner), Mike Tyson (himself), Rob Riggle (Officer Franklin), Cleo King (Officer Garden); Runtime: 96; MPAA Rating: R; producers: Mr. Phillips/Dan Goldberg; Warner Brothers Pictures; 2009)
“Raunchy comedy about a bachelor party gone wrong.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

Todd Phillips (“School for Scoundrels”/”Old School”/”Starsky & Hutch”) helms this raunchy comedy about a bachelor party gone wrong. It’s written by Jon Lucas and Scott Moore, who keep the party afloat with low-brow humor such as play-acting the jerking off a toddler, stealing a police car, getting tasered, vomiting in public, getting knocked out by Tyson, fag jokes, henpecked jokes, memory loss jokes, being drugged with a date rape drug, fat boy pratfalls and some tomfoolery with strippers.

An L.A. wedding awaits the clean-cut Doug (Justin Bartha) and his wealthy bride Tracy (Sasha Barrese). On the same week-end, his best friends, the smooth operator married private school teacher, Phil (Bradley Cooper), and the nerdy dentist, Stu (Ed Helms), engaged to a controlling woman named Melissa (Rachel Harris), along with Tracy’s not all there, obese, bearded, lonely, perverse and needy man-child brother, Alan (Zach Galifianakis), treat Doug to a male fantasy bachelor party in Las Vegas (a drive of about 300 miles through the desert).

For the immature adults it turns out to be a hectic lost-weekend in Sin City, as the groomsmen remember nada the next morning of their last night’s debauched escapade that has them waking up in a trashed Caesar’s Palace luxury suite ($4,000 a night) with a live chicken, a crying baby in a closet, a very large tiger belonging to Mike Tyson in the bathroom, Stu missing a front tooth, Phil wearing a hospital wrist-band and a missing Doug.

The film retraces the steps of the bad boys and in a whodunit mystery style fills us in on all the lurid details, that also involves a clash with a wise-cracking vengeful gay Asian mobster head (Ken Jeong), an arrest by the police over the stolen police car, the smashing of the Mercedes convertible that Doug’s father-in-law (Jeffrey Tambor) let his son-in-law drive and graphic photos in the end credits that further clear up the evening in question.

It all adds up to a lackluster comedy that desperately tries to make the most of its swinging Las Vegas conceit, but it runs out of energy well before the climax neatly wraps up things and brings things back to normalcy. At best, it delivers clever cheap jokes for its juvenile characters and leaves them as supposedly lovable troublemakers. The character who seems the most decent among these less than flattering women and annoyingly immature men is a hooker/stripper with a heart of gold and an infant, Jade (Heather Graham), who marries during the wild evening with the dentist but doesn’t hold him to the Las Vegas wedding. It probably signifies that despite what happened, nothing really happened that counted. Which might be a good way to sum up this ‘boys will be boys’ Frat House-like comedy. Though for those looking for a more bland entry in the rancid man-child genre and one that has of all things, Tyson singing a Phil Collins song, this might be their kind of unsophisticated and easy-to-take jokey movie.


Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”