(2009) dir. Todd Phillips
viewed: 07/26/09 at the Oaks Theatre, Berkeley, CA
The funniest movie I’ve seen since Superbad (2007).
The Hangover is a great conceit. A group of friends go to Las Vegas for a bachelor party. They get so wasted that they don’t remember anything. They awaken to a series of increasingly crazy mysteries, including primarily what happened to the groom, who has gone missing. The mystery of unfolding a missing tooth, a baby in the closet, a tiger in the bathroom, a chicken in the kitchen, and unraveling as much as they can from the night lost to inebriation.
Director Todd Phillips doesn’t really have an estimable track record. Though I know that there are a lot of people out there who like to reference Old School (2003), I haven’t ever seen it due to the Will Farrell factor. I have seen both Road Trip (2000) and Starsky & Hutch (2004) and I can’t really say that Phillips has the making for an auteur. But who knows? Sometimes the funniest or best movies are just some alchemy of luck and timing.
Hardly flawless and vastly crass, it’s still a heck of a lot funnier than the first couple of trailers might have promised. And oddly, I think it would make an excellent double feature with Wake in Fright (1971), another film about a bender and its resultant nightmare. Vegas is the landscape here, the “what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas” mantra is there and it’s indeed a place for debauchery. The Australian outback and Donald Pleasance make Wake in Fright more of a straight-up nightmare, a place of debauchery, but not so easy to escape. It could be an interesting subgenre. “The bender” and its results. It’s certainly got a lot of room for comedy and chaos. And in this case, largely “laugh out loud” gags and fun.