In many ways, I am glad that "The Hangover" was not released prior to my own wedding, and therefore, bachelor party. I fell in a sweet spot between the Tom Hanks starring "The Bachelor Party" and 9 years before "The Hangover". My own bachelor party was a small and timid affair, to be honest, but it still was not something I was about to discuss with the in-laws, for example.
"The Hangover" is a genuinely funny movie, and a well conceived, well-directed one, too. Writer/ Director Todd Phillips is also a producer on the movie, and so the movie had an opportunity to be made without the usual watering down of ideas that would result in a fairly by-the-numbers comedy that didn't live up to much more than the trailer.
The movie remembers that the downfall of a good comedy can be when the plot takes precedence over why people showed up for your movie and the third act can easily get bogged down in wrapping up various plot threads instead of comedy. Its an odd thing to defy expectations of the audience by keeping it simple in order to focus on characters when that's where the humor starts. What could have been a riff on "Dude, Where's My Car" (yes, I've seen it), is most likely going to find its way into many a DVD collection and certainly become a staple of bachelor parties for years to come.
There's certainly the fantasy aspect of modern America, regarding both the bachelor party AND the with what seems like the limitless possibilities of an adult playground like Vegas. And, of course, the amping up of the common experience of waking up and attempting to piece an evening back together. And if that's not your cup of tea (finding tigers in bathrooms = funny), then I cannot help you.
Anyhow, I think to linger too long on a successful comedy is to do it a disservice. But I can say that all of the talent in the movie knocked themselves out (and, for once, I wasn't cringing at Heather Graham). We've come to know Ed Helms from The Daily Show and The Office. Bradley Cooper is good as the guy trying to stay cool, but I think the audience will be happy to take notice of comedian Zack Galifiniakis, who some may know from Comedians of Comedy. And, after "Knocked Up" and "Role Models", it was great to see Ken Jeong create another memorable character.
I enjoyed it. Depending on your tolerance for this sort of stuff and whether you think bachelor parties are despicable behavior or not, I give it a salute.
If I say I'm glad it didn't come out prior to my own nuptials, its that in some way, we expect (or maybe have an unspoken hope) that our bachelor parties will be a surreal experience, but, you know, not so surreal that we have to call off the wedding. In taking the bachelor party to absurd extremes, the movie opens the door for the "well, you wouldn't want that, right?" question from their very special lady, that anyone with a bachelor party would dread.
Of course not, baby, we say. I'm just going to have some drinks with the pals. And if we find a tiger in the bathroom, at least we'll have some good stories.
Also, I kept thinking that this whole movie could happen to Randy.