In Theaters: The Hangover

Movieline Score:

I came to The Hangover ready to laugh. More than ready: I came primed, as if my entire life (for the past six weeks) had been leading up to witnessing for my own eyes this blinding, white supernova of funny. If I were to do it all over again, I'd probably lower those expectations by 30%. It's frequently amusing, and almost always entertaining. It's in truth way above average for your typical dudes-acting-stupid movie. But it's also far from a classic.

You know the premise by now: a quartet of guys -- four points on a clueless dork compass -- head out to Vegas for a bachelor party. The next morning, one is gone, the night's a blank, and they set into the blazing Vegas sun to find their missing comrade and get him to the altar on time. The advertising campaign has already done a pretty good job of revealing some of the movie's best gag elements, so I won't spoil it any further. The Hangover's plot, which unfolds like a detective story solved by a three-headed, developmentally disabled gumshoe, is best savored blindly.

As a whole, though -- and this is what most surprised me -- it kind of plays it safe. I wanted Hangover to go in truly bizarre directions, introducing us along the way to various, exotic species of Vegas's indigenous weirdos. Too often the scenarios felt stock and flimsy, as if they might collapse at any moment under their own self-conscious schtickiness. There's also a tendency to shoot for easy laughs, at other people's expense. There's liberal use of the word "faggot" that bugged me (but seemed to tickle the fratty guys in the row behind me); an old man's medical examination is mined for needlessly humiliating laughs; and Ken Jeong's character was a double-stuffed stereotype sandwich whose main offense was that he just wasn't that funny.

So what worked? There's definite chemistry there between Ed Helms, Bradley Cooper and Zach Galifianakis. The script is a dream for a comedic actor, filled with opportunities for all three leads to shine, and all three do. (Justin Bartha, as the film's elusive MacGuffin, doesn't really register, mainly because he's written as the straight-man counterpoint to the other three.) There's no question. It could have been great. By the end, though, you find yourself wishing that some of the unhinged zaniness hinted at in the film's final frames had seeped its way into the actual movie. Rating (out of 10): 7.5


  • Matt McCluskey says:

    Reducing my expectations as I type this. Thanks for the warning.

  • Colander says:

    "By the end, though, you find yourself wishing that some of the unhinged zaniness hinted at in the film’s final frames had seeped its way into the actual movie."
    Come on, dude, we're trying to wring a trilogy outta this thing!

  • yarmulke says:

    It's too bad Fart doods still laugh at the word faggot. Not that I'm against the occasional Gay-Chicken to augment my own brand of humor but not in a "What are you a faggot>" kind of way. More like..."man i'd like to lay down in his manscaped mountain of a chest"

  • bess marvin, girl detective says:

    The script read the same way. Sad to see that there wasn't enough changes made.

  • MA says:

    Agree with Seth -- not as funny as you'd hope but funnier than most of the Frat/Scat pack's recent offerings, if only by virtue of fresh faces where Rogen/Ferrell/Rudd/Hill etc usually appear.
    The first "faggot" joke works because it's introduced just as Ed Helms's henpecking is complete. It's funny because it's a counterpoint to the emasculation he's just experienced and confirms everything his wife says about his friend's boorishness. "Paging Dr Asshole", "Paging Dr Zebrashit" or anything similarly inappropriate would've worked as well. After that, though, the gay jokes do wear -- more because they're lazy and not that funny, rather than due to any offense given.
    And in terms of a trilogy, who's gonna step up and give Ken Jeong his own "Gaysian" raunch-com. His finicky, shrill and aggressive homosexual here is but a nastier-edged version of his King Argatron in Role Models. C'mon, Hollywood, step up!

  • Inhaler says:

    The baby is right though, if you're going to Vegas then don't forget your BluBlockers®.

  • Strepsi says:

    Seth - this measured review then 7.5/10?
    Way generous - stick to your (well-written BTW) convictions!!!!
    NO MOVIE with "liberal use of the word faggot" should get more than a 3. More likely a 3 with a side order of Coke hurled at the screen.

  • John says:

    Totally agree about the "faggot" and "gay" jokes. Next time it happens in a movie I'm walking out and demanding a refund.

  • The Hangover is a amazing film, so many hilarious and unusual moments that make u want to find out what happens at the end, but its a great film with great characters 🙂

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  • LOVEFiLM says:

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