It's hard to review a movie like The Hangover in terms that are the most fitting. Words and phrases like "funny," "outrageous," and "awesomely inappropriate" are all well and good, but they don't get to the heart of the film like, say, drunkenly rating it "epic" out of five stars.
Such intoxicated creative sportsmanship can be hard to justify in the cold light of day, but don't worry, that fits with the movie, too. The story begins with Doug (Justin Bartha), a thirtysomething guy who's getting married in two days. Cut to a borrowed vintage Mercedes Cabrio (which you know is just doomed) packed full of groomsmen (Zach Galifianakis, Bradley Cooper, and Ed Helms) hightailing it out to Vegas for the traditional last night of freedom. Cut to the evening of supposedly tame libations starting out innocently enough. Cut to the three wrecked members of the wedding party waking up the next morning in their decimated suite with a baby in the closet, a tiger in the bathroom, and no idea where the groom is.
They also have no idea what happened last night, having apparently transgressed to such Hunter S. Thompson-esque levels of debauchery that they entered some kind of partying black hole. A raucous detective story ensues, as the guys piece together their forgotten adventures in search of the missing Doug, and of course, inevitably stir up the hilarious consequences of last night's inebriated shenanigans.
It would be a terrible waste to spoil too many specifics, because a lot of the discoveries about what happened pop up as true surprises, and even the more predictable stuff (Come on, it's Vegas -- you know somebody's marrying a prostitute) plays out creatively. Director Todd Phillips helped define this particular brand of boys-gone-wild comedy with 2003's Old School, but The Hangover is way crazier and more over-the-top. And that goes for all aspects of the film: the pace is more frantic, the jokes are rowdier, and the plot is more harrowing by a lot. That being said, the humor doesn't really push the envelope in terms of ardently R-rated comedy, and things get a little sappy at the end. So if you're looking for the next stop on the Shockingly Experimental Comedy train, don't get off here -- this ride is strictly for laughs.
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