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Jun 5, 2009

Fletch's Film Review: The Hangover

When it comes to movies, I worry about expectations a lot. The ones set for me by others, the ones I might set for others via this site or word of mouth - all of 'em. I'm keenly aware of how important they are in shaping one's opinion of the media they are about to consume. This is why trailers and marketing can be forces of evil and work against that which they are trying to promote, setting up viewers for disappointment. After all, how many times have you come out of a movie and thought that all of the best parts were included in the trailer, or watched a trailer and thought "Jeez, show the whole film, why don't you?"

Expectations were on my mind immediately after exiting The Hangover. How was I to talk about it without setting up the reader for an experience that might not match my own?

In this case I am unafraid; it might not be possible to oversell The Hangover. I spoke just recently about the "instant history" phenomenon - our society's penchant for naming whatever the newest thing is as "the best," and I will stop myself short of falling prey to that which irks me. But I can say this: I haven't laughed as much at a film since Team America: World Police, and it's quite possible that I had a better time watching Todd Phillips latest film (it's been five years since Team America came out, so I really can't say for certain).

In case you're somehow unaware of the premise, here it be: four friends (Ed Helms, Bradley Cooper, Justin Bartha, and Zach Galifianakis) head to Las Vegas to stage a bachelor party for Bartha's character, who is set to be married in a matter of days. What follows is the sort of Vegas experience that, yes, might only happen in the movies. But it's done in such a way that the viewer is able to buy much of what they're seeing. Perhaps the best part, though, is that the setup is ingenious enough to allow you to discover just what happened on this wild night at the same time as the four protagonists. You're just as clueless as they are, if not more so.

To say much more about the plot or to wax poetic about the depth of character or the arc of Phillips' growth as a filmmaker seems pointless. This is indeed a "dumb comedy" along the lines of his previous work - to attempt to suss out any greater meaning is to miss the mark entirely. But at the same time, to merely dismiss it as a "dumb comedy" like Step Brothers or Pineapple Express is also to severely underestimate it; this is a very well-written and well-thought out comedy (with real characters!) that strings you along like a stripper chasing after one of Al Bundy's dollars, only to pull that buck out from under you and leave you flat on your face. The thing is, you'll love every minute of it and come back for more.

Fletch's Film Rating:

"You're the best...around!"

8 people have chosen wisely: on "Fletch's Film Review: The Hangover"

blake said...

Comedy isn't my favorite film genre, but I can't wait for this! Thanks for molding my expectations!

Jess said...

I was on the fence, needed an opinion I could trust, but now I will make an effort to see this in theaters.

Tommy Salami said...

Same here - the trailer was iffy, so all my respect for you is now based on my reaction to this film. I'm sure you care.

Mrs Fletch said...

I'm one of those people that even if a movie is funny, I don't usually laugh out loud. This movie not only made me laugh - a lot. It was that gaspy laughter while wiping little laugh-tears from my eyes.

Nick said...

I'm like you, Mrs. Fletch. It takes a lot for a movie (even if it's funny) to make me laugh out loud. But I still wasn't laughing as hard as both you and Fletch described. I did laugh out loud on numerous occasions, but it wasn't the non-stop, tearing-up kind of laughter.

Fletch said...

Blake, Jess, Tommy - I highly doubt even 2 of you will enjoy it as much as I did, but I can't imagine y'all not thinking it's at least pretty funny.

All your respect for me, Tommy? Shit...you better like it.

Nick - I enjoyed the whole thing, and was laughing consistently, but the end credits montage is what sent me over the top, for sure. I can't wait to see it again.

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Reel Whore said...

Team America: World Police - I need to dust that DVD off that chestnut and give it a whirl.

Expectations can be a bish. It's nigh impossible for me to go to a mainstream film without them. I know so many of the actors and their past movies, plus there is the never-ending barrage of trailers. Let's face it, once you've seen a couple thousand trailers, you can predict the outcome of nearly any movie from the way the trailer's cut.

BTW, great Al Bundy reference.