Classic Intel: The Hangover - Online Review

'writers Jon Lucas and Scott Moore delight in finding increasingly bizarre events for the characters to engage in. None of them has any impact on the plot'

When I first saw The Hangover at the tail end of 2009 I loved it. Nothing much has changed. I can appreciate the criticisms from everyone who thinks the jokes are too bawdy, the situations too unbelievable, the characters unlikeable but, even if you are one of those people, I'll be startled if it didn't raise at least a smile.

For a start there's the sheer familiarity of the high concept. 'Four friends get wasted in Las Vegas. One of them goes missing. The others have to find him.' Who hasn't had a night that's at least a little bit like that? Or gone on/heard of a stag do where the groom has suffered some level of prank-pulling? If you're stone cold sober, you're missing out. The gleeful joy of trying to find a friend who has wandered off (voluntarily or non-voluntarily) to a different club/bar/police station is not to be missed. In fact, if you are teetotal, here's a thought: get a friend to drop another friend in the middle of a city and tell him to go and see some sights, put on someone else's prescription glasses, try to find said friend. Instant entertainment.

That said not everyone's Friday night involves the capers that happen during The Hangover. Whilst your average drunken evening in Bolton might involve several pints of ale, a curry and a late night fight outside the kebab house, the group in The Hangover have to contend with a tiger, a stolen police car and a surprise wedding. It's a night on the town times ten, which is exactly why it's so fun.

Given free reign to write in a way for Phil (Bradley Cooper), Stu (Ed Helms) and Alan (Zach Galifianakis) to find groom Doug (Justin Bartha), writers Jon Lucas and Scott Moore delight in finding increasingly bizarre events for the characters to engage in. None of them has any impact on the plot. The police car taking is never fully explained whilst an explanation of the chicken's presence isn't even attempted. The final dawning realisation has practically nothing to do with the opening hour's events. Not that this matters. Lucas and Moore feed in witty and risque jokes ('I didn't know they gave out rings at the holocaust') to joyful situations of depravity and odd moments of off-beat light play (Helms singing 'Stu's Song' whilst the tiger chews on a drugged steak is a highlight). It is, quite simply, too hilarious to care about the fact that you're currently watching the nineteenth sidetrack which has nothing to do with the main plot.

On that basis though, The Hangover suffers from non-exploration of the better anecdotal situations. Heather Graham is brilliant but under-used. The small snippets of the night in question look great but are hardly seen. Ken Jeong's character would have been infinitely funnier if he'd just been written out the moment after he attacks the lead trio. There's so much good material here that Lucas and Moore stifle some of it by focusing on their favoured plot points.

That said, those plot points are tremendously entertaining and because of them The Hangover loses little on second viewing. The surprise turns might not be as surprising but they are just as entertaining. If you're not a fan of getting drunk and marrying strippers then that's understandable, but at least allow yourself to laugh at the people who are.




The Hangover is currently available via Sky Anytime Plus or Sky Player for users with appropriate subscriptions.

Look further...

'comedy filmmakers decide to make the characters so much larger than life that they just become gross parodies of themselves' - Thoughts Of A Steel Monster, 5.3/10

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