Few films have come out the box recently like The Hangover. Sure there have been films that have become a part of the conversation, and the Apatow films were hundred million dollar pictures, but The Hangover was a phenomenon. Granted I live in a world where people don’t make “fat Jesus” jokes any more. As part of the target demo for this, I’m happy my friends aren’t the guys quoting this film ad nauseum, but I feel like this film managed to hit the nerves that Austin Powers did in maximum quotability, so my residual like may be tempered by other’s exhaustion. My review of The Hangover Blu-ray after the fold.
Zach Galifianakis plays the future brother-in-law to Justin Bartha, who’s about to get married when the two join up with Ed Helms and Bradley Cooper for a bachelor weekend in Vegas. Everything starts right, and then the four black out. Cut to the morning after, and their hotel room is fucked up, there’s a tiger in the bathroom, a chicken in the main room, and a baby in the closet. Oh, and Bartha is gone.
From there the boys try to piece their evening together, crossing paths with comic ringers like Ken Jeong as a psychotic Asian gangster-type, Mike Tyson as himself, Rob Riggle as a pissed off cop (they stole his car), Matt Walsh as a sleazy doctor, Heather Graham as the woman Helms married, and Mike Epps as a drug dealer.
Vegas has been a touchstone for a while of squalid stupid behavior, and the “what happens in Vegas” catch-phrase/marketing gimmick is definitely one of those things that has national saturation. And men getting together and getting trouble is rife with comic possibilities. But for whatever reason, this movie hit a nerve, and it’s all got to do with Todd Phillips.
One of the best directed comedies in a very long time, The Hangover is smooth and there are visual jokes that come across in a smart way, while the cast works together in a perfectly harmonious fashion. Bradley Cooper is insanely on as the smart dickhole of a best friend, the abusive bruiser delicious at being a cock, but inherently likeable because it’s obviously something of a façade. Helms plays the whipped man about to marry a harpy of a woman who through the weekend becomes a man and Zach Galifianakis comes at this movie like a crazy tiger, just stealing and killing them film.
Point blank, Galifianakis’s performance here is like watching Eddie Murphy in 48 hrs. And no one has just taken a movie like this since Murphy. But everyone comes out from this looking like a champ, and it’s one of the rare comedies that aren’t just sold on a Saturday Night Live performer. It’s someone taking the idea of the ensemble comedy and doing it in a completely non-Apatow way to tremendous results. Though the film may age poorly, partly because it’s more about the ride than the laugh out louds, it’s a solid piece of work, and one of those films that when it hit, you could totally see why. But Todd Phillips manages to keep the energy up, and keep the incidents doled out in such a way that even if you aren’t a fan, or grow tired of the film, it’s hard not to respect the accomplishment.
Warner Brothers presents the film on Blu-ray in both a theatrical (100 min.) and unrated (106 min.) cuts. I found the differences to be negligible. The film is presented in widescreen (2.35:1) and in 5.1 Dolby Digital True-HD. The transfer is excellent as to be expected and the rear surrounds do come into play. There’s also a digital copy included. Also included is a PIP commentary with Todd Phillips, Cooper, Helms and Galifianakis. They have fun watching the movie pre-release, and are just made aware of certain changes. There’s a Map of Destruction (14 min.) that walks the viewer through the Vegas locations seen in the film, with some jokes, and some production tidbits, but mostly jokes. “The Madness of Ken Jeong” (8 min.) gives the film’s co-star’s outtakes a moment to shine, while “Action Mash-Up” is thirty five seconds of the film’s action. “Three best friends song” (1 min.) is a longer version of the song in the film, while “The Dan Band” (1 min.) features two uncut songs. The “Gag Reel” (8 min.) offers people corpsing, and there’s an additional 100 pictures from the end credits that were unused. Offer no surprise when the film is double dipped when the sequel hits.