The Hangover Review: A Crude Yet Witty Infantile Comedy

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It seems the subject of male immaturity or “adultolescence” has become a comedic standard in the 21st century and Todd Phillips is mostly recognized as the genres lead aficionado, with films such as Road Trip and Old School at the top of his repertoire. While this could be seen as a back handed compliment, Phillips has been able to use this genre to expand upon it with wit and a unique ability to balance crudeness with characters that go beyond your average male caricatures. The Hangover, Phillip’s new infantile male syndrome comedy, is certainly funny, crude yes but not without it’s level of cleverness, and makes for an intriguing comedic mystery film largely due to its cast that make this outrageous comedy stand out. Perverse yet irresistibly engaging, The Hangover provides the comedic service the summer audience is looking for due to its interesting characters, its crude and senseless depravity, and ultimately having a message beyond the devastation that encompasses the heart of darkness that is Sin City.

It appears that Todd Phillips has a rather cynical, if not ultimately pessimistic view, towards marriage if Old School and his new film The Hangover are any indicators to go by. The main premise is a group of friends, Phil, Stu, and Alan, are off to Vegas for their friend Doug’s bachelor party, staying in a lavish suite in Caesar’s Palace intended for a night of unbridled good times. Phil is an interesting embodiment of the frat boy persona, played charmingly by Bradley Cooper, who uses his student’s field trip money for gambling and talks a big game about regretting marriage. The more mature and financially responsible of the group due to his emasculating girlfriend is Stu, portrayed rather diligently by The Office’s Ed Helms, who sees marriage as a timetable rather than a choice based on feeling. However, the hilarity prize goes to Zach Galifianakis for his role as Alan, whose an overgrown and boorish child that uses a vast amount of non-sequiturs which usually are scene stealers and funnier when they make the least amount of sense. This unusual group, along with Doug, party until the break of dawn, something the audience doesn’t see until the pictures in the credits, only to wake up with a ravaged apartment, including a tiger in the bathroom and a left behind baby, and no sign of Doug. The mystery begins and the clues unveil themselves to the crew in an onslaught of random occurrences, including Asian gangsters, police volunteer work, and Mike Tyson.

the hangover

The plot in The Hangover, with all of its crude dialogue and unbelievable situations, could only have been successful with the proper casting and the actors do a stunning job at keeping this outrageously vulgar adventure from getting too out of hand. They have charm and a sort of sympathetic nature that allows the audience to connect with this hodgepodge of a group even after some of their more selfish moments. Using the backdrop of Sin City as an obscene and brutish wilderness to get lost in, Phillip’s is able to make a modern twist on Joseph Conrad’s message in Heart of Darkness where going to the uncivilized makes one uncivilized. These characters relish in the idea of Sin City, when rather it is an escape from their adult responsibilities, whether it be a wife and child or being truthful to a girlfriend, these so called men embrace their childishness by not facing the realities and hardships that await them back at home. This is where a more appropriate message is hidden within the torrent that is The Hangover, and that is a realization from all of the characters, after their adolescence gets taken to the limit, that facing hardship and coming to terms with reality is actually inevitable.

Phillip’s does an above average job filming this comedic adventure, with a clarity that wasn’t existent in his previous films. His use of shots doesn’t get wasted and his obvious ability to direct comedy, through his talented selection of actors, makes this an enjoyable summer comedy. The interesting casting choices of relatively underground actors such as Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms, and Zach Galifianakis, proved to be a wise choice because their delivery was more understated than in Phillip’s earlier works such as Old School, which had quite a bit of exaggerated comedic delivery. The other casting choices for the various roles that appear throughout the film were wisely chosen as well, with memorable appearances from Ken Jeoung as a flamboyant gang leader or even Rob Riggle as an over the top state trooper. While there are some shocking moments in The Hangover it is still moderately contained and wisely directed in perhaps Phillip’s best piece of comedic work that shows some growth that is reflected in his better representation of chosen characters.

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In all of its crude depravity The Hangover is a better comedy than expected and was well timed for the summer season standing out among all of the action blockbusters that seem to all mesh together. Having cleverly written characters and a successful cast to bring it together, especially from the scene stealing Zach Galifianakis, Todd Phillip’s has made a successful “adultolescent” comedy that has maturity in direction rather than embracing the infantile syndrome that has defined so many other comedies in the 21st Century. While this film will most likely be a tad overrated among the majority of audiences, a realization that unfortunately arrives too late, it is still a worth while experience, despite all of its crude and insensitive displays of shocking comedy.

Grade: B+

One Response to “The Hangover Review: A Crude Yet Witty Infantile Comedy”
  1. tommy holden says:

    Hey Kyle,

    Nice review on the “hangover.” If I had to give it a grade, I would give it a sold “A.” Crude dialogue and edgy situations are the future of the American modern comedy.

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