Plot summary (with possible spoilers): Doug (played by Justin Bartha) is going to get married in a few days. So close friends Phil (Bradley Cooper) and Stu (Ed Helms), along with soon-to-be brother-in-law Alan (Zach Galifianakis) do what any self-respecting group of SoCal men would do in the same situation: they take Doug on a road trip to Vegas for his bachelor party.
On the surface, it doesn’t seem like this group would get into much trouble. Doug is an even-keeled average kind of guy. Phil is a schoolteacher, and though morally challenged (he appropriates funds from a field trip for personal use in Vegas), is rather harmless. Stu is an uptight dentist who is completely whipped by his shrew of a girlfriend. And Alan is far too childlike to do anything really crazy.
But the group still somehow manages to have the wildest night of their lives, after popping for a $4,000 suite and starting the festivities off with shots of Jaeger on the roof. Viewers see only the aftermath of the shenanigans: the suite is completely trashed, Stu has lost a tooth, there’s a tiger in the bathroom, a chicken running around the other rooms, and a baby in the closet. What’s more, Doug is missing, and none of the men have the faintest recollection of what happened.
Phil soon takes charge, and looks around for clues. The men have miscellaneous items in their pockets, including a parking pass. That might lead them to Doug, so they head down to collect their car from the valet in order to try to retrace their steps from the night before. The only problem is, the valet brings a police car — which just deepens the mystery of what might have happened.
The rest of the film then shows Phil, Stu, and Alan frantically trying to figure out what they did, where they went, and most importantly, where Doug might be so they can get him back to California in time for his wedding. By the time the credits roll, all the clues are explained fully — with the exception of the damn chicken!
My Reaction: As someone who doesn’t particularly like comedies very much (because they often come off as stupid rather than funny), I have to say that The Hangover was very impressive! For one thing, it was smart. The setup wasn’t particularly inspired, to be sure, as we’ve seen numerous bachelor-party-gone-bad films before. But the execution was brilliant! I loved how the guys first lost the groom-to-be, and then had to piece together the seemingly random clues to track him back down again. The pacing was excellent, and the ticking clock of the wedding ceremony kept things moving right along.
For another thing, this film was actually funny! All three main characters brought their own kind of humor to the table, and Zach Galifianakis was terrific as the slow-witted Alan. He kind of had a Jack Black vibe to him, so will he start getting those “lovable chubby guy” roles that have been going to Black for the past few years? We’ll see. The dialogue was great, and the physical humor was just hilarious.
Though The Hangover is clearly a guy’s film, the appeal is broad enough that women can enjoy it too. After all, I’m a woman and I liked it! I give this film 5 stars out of 5.