MOVIE REVIEW- Day after: <i>Hangover</i> a feel-bad but funny flick


If you've seen any of the films of Todd Phillips (Old School, Road Trip, etc.) you know his favorite topic is men behaving immaturely (or boys behaving infantilely). You also know he can make you laugh, even if you don't always feel good about yourself for laughing.

The Hangover is typical. Four friends. Bachelor party in Vegas. It practically writes itself (with the help of Jon Lucas and Scott Moore, who didn't come highly recommended after Four Christmases and Ghosts of Girlfriends Past).

Not only is the writing clever, but so is the marketing. The movie itself deals with the aftermath of the bachelor party, setting up several mysteries about what happened the night before. Most of these are resolved only in a series of quick snapshots during the closing credits, so if you really care you'll have to see the movie several times or buy/rent the DVD and freeze-frame it to catch all the details.

Best man Phil (Bradley Cooper) calls bride-to-be Tracy (Sasha Barrese) from the Nevada desert to say the party "got out of control, and we lost Doug." The wedding, five hours away, is "not gonna happen." Doug (Justin Bartha), of course, was to be the groom.

Flashing back two days to Friday, we meet the guys. Doug is being entrusted by Sid (Jeffrey Tambor), Tracy's father, with his beloved Mercedes, even though Sid's very nudge-nudge, wink-wink about what happens in Vegas. Sid's also giving Doug his weird son Alan (Zach Galifianakis), who's "not supposed to be within 200 feet of a school– or a Chuck E. Cheese."

That's mentioned when they stop to pick Phil up at the school where he teaches. Phil is unhappily married and will preach against the institution at the drop of a hat. The last stop is for Stu (Ed Helms), a dentist who tells everyone he's a doctor. He's so whipped by Melissa (Rachael Harris), his girlfriend of three years, that he's planning to propose to her at Doug's wedding. He tells her the bachelor party is in the Napa Valley because he knows she wouldn't approve of the real location.

That evening the guys are doing shots on the roof of Caesar's Palace. The next day they wake up in their $4,200-a-night villa with a tiger in the bathroom, a baby in the closet, a chicken walking around, a police car they've checked into the hotel parking lot– and no sign of Doug.

The three men and a baby start playing detective, but the answers they get raise more questions. Stu put roofies in their drinks, thinking it was Ecstasy; Doug was treated at the hospital for a mild concussion and some bruising; the tiger belongs to Mike Tyson; and they owe $80,000 to Mr. Chow (Ken Jeong), who's in the trunk of the impounded Mercedes. Oh, and Stu married a stripper, Jade (Heather Graham).

You can imagine a bunch of guys– not unlike those on the screen– sitting around getting high and coming up with the wacky ideas, but it took skill and sober deliberation to fashion them into an off-the-wall but fundamentally sound script. Phillips then took the ball and ran with it, keeping things moving without getting too slick.

Comedies like this are meant to be politically incorrect, so leaving a group out is as offensive as intentionally offending them. One line, "It's funny because he's fat," sums up the sensitivity level of The Hangover. If you're fat, female, gay, Asian or human, be prepared to be a target. If you can't laugh at yourself, you'll have lots of others to laugh at, but expect to hate yourself in the morning.