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The Hangover (2009)

Some guys just can't handle Vegas.

Rating: 8/10

Running Time: 100 minutes

US Certificate: R UK Certificate: 15

The Hangover is by far the most significant comedy to come of the US in the last three years. There is no mention of Seth Rogen and the Knocked Up bromancers. There isn’t a whiff of the over-rated, under-talented Will Ferrell. The Stiller-Wilson-Coogan bratpack is pleasantly absent. Rather we have a new ensemble of comedy journeymen and they do a fine job of a well-worn concept.

The story centres around a group of four friends who travel to the den of iniquity that is Las Vegas for Doug’s (Bartha) stag weekend. The friends spent a night of drug and drink filled carnage out on the town. Three of them wake up in a trashed hotel room complete with the hangover of the title, an anonymous baby, a tiger and a missing Groom. Unable to remember anything of what happened they begin to piece events together with the help of acquaintances from the night before, including a hooker (Graham), two sadistic policemen (Riggle and King) and Mike Tyson (at the very limit of his acting ability when playing himself).

The storyline is not exactly groundbreaking as the stag weekend gone wrong is a path well trodden. Murdered prostitutes in Very Bad Things and drunken weddings from this year’s truly awful What Happens in Vegas are familiar hazards. You would have thought that soon-to-be-married males would have spotted the dangers of Sin City by now and instead spent a nice weekend sightseeing at the Grand Canyon.

The Hangover introduces us to some pretty unlovable characters. We have cocky, married Phil (Cooper), dim-witted, slightly unhinged Alan (Galifianakis) and henpecked Stu (Helms). The success of the film comes with the fact that we still want them to succeed because of good characterisation and their debauched antics and manly banter are very funny. The comedy is not exactly sophisticated and much of the humour is physical but the film somehow crosses the tightrope of acceptability and rarely descends into gross-out. This is a feat as we are put through babies making inappropriate hand gestures, a naked super-camp Chinese gangster and a Rain Man parody to name a few.

Another refreshing aspect to be admired is that there is no fluffy, heart-warming lesson in life that normally accompanies the end of American comedies. They don’t find themselves and they don’t repent and change. The same flawed, unprincipled men return from Vegas. In The Hangover, nobody learns a lesson.

It's Got: Lots of laughs and banter, no Will Ferrell.

It Needs: Not a lot.


With one-liners and physical comedy that hit the mark nearly every time, The Hangover is one of the best comedies to come out this year.