GENRE: Disastrous comedy that happens in Vegas
THE PITCH: The morning after a raucous Vegas bachelor party, hungover groomsmen Phil, Stu and Alan (Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms and Zach Galifianakis, respectively) woozily retrace their steps to find the mysteriously missing groom, Doug (Justin Bartha).
MONEY SHOTS: The establishing shots of the trashed, smoldering chicken-infested hotel suite, so artfully wrecked it could be a Vanity Fair concept photo shoot. The hotel valet returns not the guy’s borrowed Mercedes, but a stolen police car. The guys demonstrate police stun guns — the hard way — to avoid a trial. Mike Tyson’s sleeping tiger wakes up in the guys' Mercedes.
BEST LINE: “I didn’t know they give out rings at the Holocaust,” says Alan, upon Stu’s exclamation that a stripper (Heather Graham) is wearing his grandmother’s Holocaust ring.
WORST LINE: “Did Caesar live here?” Alan asks when they check into — wait for it — Caesar’s Palace. Stand-up comedian Galifianakis underplays Alan’s inanities to a fault.
GROSSEST LINE: “Our best friend Doug is probably face down in a ditch right now with a methhead butt-fucking his corpse!” Stu exclaims during one of Helms’ priceless hissy fits.
FLESH FACTOR: Alan hugs Doug while wearing a T-shirt and jockstrap. An old man in a hospital gown inadvertently moons us all. Heather Graham flashes briefly while breast-feeding. A nude psycho (Ken Jeong) pops out of a car trunk and attacks the guys like a clothing-optional Jack-in-the-Box. Topless stills in the closing credits.
MP3-TO-BE: Helms croons the delightfully cheesy, improvised-sounding “What do tigers dream of?” The Dan Band sings an overwrought rendition of Fame's eponymous theme song.
MOVIE REFERENCES: Alan’s blackjack obsession pays off with some elaborate, shot-by-shot parallels to Rain Man, complete with “Iko Iko” on the soundtrack.
CAMEOS: Helms shares the screen with two fellow “The Daily Show” alumni, Matt Walsh and Rob Riggle. Mike Tyson’s amusing walk-on includes him singing along and playing air drums to Phil Collins' "In the Air Tonight," although the lighthearted scene is more difficult to enjoy following the recent release of Tyson’s warts-and-all documentary and his 4-year-old daughter’s tragic death.
PRODUCT PLACEMENT: The film makes a running joke of the mistreatment of a Mercedes convertible. Monster Energy drink is prominently displayed in the filthy suite. The boys drink Coca-Cola while reclaiming a car from an impound yard. Like most of Hollywood’s Vegas movies, The Hangover celebrates Sin City as America’s pleasure palace, but at least it details some hilariously awful consequences.
THE BOTTOM LINE: From Old School director Todd Phillips, The Hangover overstays its welcome by about 10 minutes and doesn’t quite live up to its own trailer, which gives away some of the best gags. It still offers laughs most of the way through, however. While Bradley Cooper gets top billing and Galifianakis plays the craziest character, former Atlantan Ed Helms owns the movie as he captures the crumbling composure of a preppie dentist.
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