Archive for June 29th, 2009

The Hangover PosterI don’t go to see a huge number of outright comedies.  Take some of the biggest comedy films of recent years such as the American Pie or Austin Powers films I just didn’t find funny.  Therefore it comes as no surprise that I was in no rush to see The Hangover.  A solid four stars and a great review from Empire and good word of mouth got the better of me and I went to see it at the weekend.  Amazingly I actually loved the film.  From all the advertising I am sure everyone knows the plot by now.  Four friends go to Vegas on a stag night.  The next day they wake up to find they have lost the groom, but gained a baby, one of them has lost a tooth, they have stolen a police car, there is a small matter of a tiger in the bathroomand worst of all no memory of how they got to this point.

The HangoverThe Hangover heather grahamWhat sets this apart is the charisma and chemistry of the leading men despite the fact there isn’t an A lister amongst them.  This leads to the question when did Bradley Cooper become a leading man?  He is best known to me as the geeky friend in Alias, the only film I have seen him in is the direct to DVD The Midnight Meat Train that I reviewed earlier in the month.  But now he the main man in this film walking the fine line between self serving and charismatic, a part he plays perfectly.  His character is reminiscent of Kevin Costner’s Gardner in Fandango.  Cooper has many future projects lined up including Faceman in the A-Team movie it will be interesting to see how his career shapes up from here.  The other reason the film works is that it treads a different path to similar films.  Whilst most films cover the hilarious (or so the director thinks) antics of the stag night this film skips over that period and sets its action the following day as the group try to piece together what happened and where the groom has gone.  This also allows for a great ending to be played out over the closing credits.  Obviously this is a film about men so the female characters are given less screen time but they all perform well.  Heather Graham’s stripper Jade actually turns out to be a sweet and innocent character.  Sassha Barresse is good as the bride to be.  But the best character of all is Melissa the controlling girlfriend of Stu (Ed Helms) played with relish by Rachael Harris.  

HangoverWhilst the film triumphs on the merits of its cast some credit has to be given to the director Todd Phillips whose previous work includes a handful of films I haven’t seen and the overrated Starsky & Hutch.   The reason I point out his importance in the process is that the film is walking a knife-edge where it could descend into gross-out comedy or go the other way and just not be funny.  Phillips keeps the action moving and the gags coming playing to the stereotypes of the characters without being too clichéd.  In short it is a film that is far better than I expected and I liked far more than expected I would.  I haven’t been so presently surprised by a film since In Bruges. 

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