DIRECTED BY Todd Phillips
STARS Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms
ARRESTED DEVELOPMENT: Bradley Cooper, Zach Galifianakis and Ed Helms in The Hangover. (Photo: Warner)
It's what's known as putting matters in perspective. Folks who regularly bash Judd Apatow for his various endeavors need only catch The Hangover to see that it's unfair to dismiss the former's pictures simply because they refuse to always toe the politically correct line. What's more, the majority of Apatow's films benefit from fluid plot developments, interesting characterizations, and gags that remain funny even in retrospect -- conditions not enjoyed by this slapdash effort from the director of the similarly idling Old School.
Scripted by Jon Lucas and Scott Moore (Ghosts of Girlfriends Past), this finds the soon-to-be-married Doug (Justin Bartha) heading to Las Vegas to enjoy a final blowout romp with his buddies: henpecked Stu (Ed Helms), dimwitted Alan (Zach Galifianakis) and prickish Phil (Bradley Cooper). But after a night of partying, the groomsmen wake up to discover that Doug is MIA. For reasons later explained, the trio don't recall anything that happened the previous night, so they stumble around Vegas trying to piece the mystery together, a taxing jaunt that puts them in contact with two sadistic cops, a sweet-natured hooker (Heather Graham), and a pissed off Mike Tyson (as himself).
That a convicted rapist like Tyson would be showcased in such fawning, reverential fashion ("He's still got it!" admires Stu after the former boxer decks Alan) pretty much reveals the mindsets of the filmmakers and their target demographic. This represents the worst sort of pandering slop, the type that appeases impressionable audiences who don't even realize they're being insulted. It insinuates that practically every man is a shallow asshole who revels in his Neanderthal habits, and that every woman falls into the category of shrew or whore. Again, contrast this with Apatow's characters, recognizably flawed people who nevertheless remain likable and interesting enough to earn our sympathies. The dipshits on view in this film are neither funny enough nor engaging enough to command our attention as they wander through a series of set-pieces that reek of comic desperation rather then genuine inspiration. Honestly, if I wanted to hang out with such backward clods, I'd save the ticket price and just go trolling in frat houses.