(L-R) Actors Ed Helms, Justin Bartha, director Todd Phillips, actors Heather Graham and Bradley Cooper pose at the premiere of Warner Bros. Pictures' "Hangover" at the Chinese Theater on June 2, 2009 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Ed Helms;Justin Bartha;Todd Phillips;Heather Graham;Bradley Cooper (Getty Images)more pics »Don't Miss:
Straight up: if you want to love this movie, you will. It's got all the requisites of an enjoyable dude film: strippers, a villain with a goofy accent, protracted scenes of pain infliction. All ye with reservations about this Todd Phillips film - you poor souls who don't jump at the chance to see Mike Tyson sing along to Genesis - don't allow yourself to be dragged to the theaters by the nearest bro. It's just not going to get any better for you.
See, there's a lot of charm to The Hangover, but it's measured with equal amounts of pure male awkwardness. Awkwardness at which some will invariably fail to laugh.
Heather Graham with director Todd Phillips. The director has confessed that the film's premise is all-too-lamely suited for a male madcap comedy: a trio of friends are led through trials and misadventures while trying to find the friend they lost during a bachelor party. The missing is, of course, the groom. Enter missing teeth, a tiger in the bathroom, and a baby in the closet. Fun times, right?
Yes and no.
Phillips tends to plumb gold from social discomfort, often to hilarious results. Unfortunately, the discovery of that zone, the place of strange intonations and overshares that comedian Will Ferrell regularly dominates, comes a little late to this film. The first twenty minutes will generate plenty of laughs, but they'll be self-conscious and inconsistent. The film eventually relieves itself of setup and backstory and dives headfirst into its ridiculous gait, something bizarre and admirable.
But it's not a great film. At beginning and end, one is acutely aware that the world outside this potent little male nucleus is not worthy of much attention. There are absolutely no compelling female characters - not that a male-dominated comedy need have one, exactly, but you'd think a film that involves a wedding at the crux of its tension would do a better job of raising the stakes. The film's bland little babes - from Heather Graham's kindhearted escort with no brain to Sasha Barrese's completely beige bride - bring this movie down.
Basically, why would these men care about finding their friend in time for a wedding, if all women have to offer are stammer-inducing boob shots? But I'm overthinking this. And I can't, if I'm expected to like this movie.