By Fred Topel | Image property of Warner Bros. Pictures
The Hangover is really funny. It’s the funniest movie of the year, although the only other comedies were 17 Again and Ghosts of Girlfriends Past so I wish I could elevate it above higher caliber competition. Also I saw I Love You Man at the end of last year so that sort of gets me out of comparing those two either.
Review: The Hangover
It begins with sincere desperation, a somber edge that shows you thinks will really get out of hand in this movie. However, as soon as you meet the characters, it’s clear that the comedy will really be about the banter. They’ll get into wild situations, but it’ll be how they react to them, and what nonsense they talk about, that’s really funny.
The types are all familiar: the alpha male, the pussy, the dumb guy. The actors and filmmakers really play with the familiarity though. It’s like you give a bunch of people the same tools and see who really uses them well. These guys outshine the others in the experiment.
Structurally the film is perfect. You get the setup, then skip the entire night. After that, the whole movie is payoff. There’s no flashback, just some photos and surveillance video which itself are punch lines, not cheats. The payoff works too. They don’t cheat there either.
The comedy is destructive, irresponsible, wrong and great. These guys take a real beating so they’re punished rightfully for their irresponsibility. They betray a lot of the clichés, and when they do something familiar like a drunken Vegas marriage, it’s punctuated with the unique device of a holocaust ring.
Different lines end up cracking up different people in the audience, so there’s something for everyone. They play the reality no matter how outrageous it gets, and go for the joke, whether it’s the point of the scene or not.
I think The Hangover is Todd Phillips’ best movie since Road Trip. Old School didn’t crack me up consistently but The Hangover did. So if you already loved Old School, The Hangover is just relentless.