MovieMantz Review: ‘The Hangover'

"Head-Pounding Hilarity"

"The Hangover"
Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms, Zach Galifianakis
Directed by Todd Phillips

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What happens in Vegas may stay in Vegas, but in the hilarious summer comedy "The Hangover," three groomsmen with throbbing headaches can't remember what happened at all.

A chicken. A tiger. A baby. A smoking chair. A gaping hole where a tooth used to be. These are just some of the surprises that Phil (Bradley Cooper), Stu (Ed Helms) and Alan (Zach Galifianakis) wake up to find in their trashed hotel suite the morning after a wild bachelor party.

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One thing they can't seem to find is Doug (Justin Bartha) — the groom-to-be. That means they have just hours to retrace their steps, find Doug and get him back to LA before he misses his own wedding. But the more they discover about their wild night, the more they realize how much trouble they're really in.

What follows in "The Hangover" is sure to make moviegoers laugh so hard that their heads will hurt (in a good way, of course). That's good news for "Road Trip" and "Old School" director Todd Phillips, who's back in the comedic zone after recent misfires like "Starsky & Hutch" and "School for Scoundrels."

But it's hard to believe that the same guys who wrote one of the year's funniest movies also wrote one of the worst — "Ghosts of Girlfriends Past." In this case, Phillips is a better fit for the raunchy, clever humor of screenwriters Jon Lucas & Scott Moore, where "Girlfriends Past" director Mark Waters tried a more whimsical, romantic approach that just didn't work.

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What does work is the chemistry between the leads. Ed Helms is hysterical as the dentist who walks on eggshells around his uptight girlfriend, while Zach Galifianakis steals the movie as the future brother-in-law who means well despite being a social misfit. Bradley Cooper is solid as the levelheaded teacher who tries to keep everything under control, while Justin Bartha makes the most of his limited screen time as the groom who goes missing.

Admittedly, the buzz wears off a bit in the last half of "The Hangover." Mike Tyson has an amusing cameo, and Heather Graham is very sexy and charming as a stripper with a heart of gold. But Ken Jeong (who played the doctor at the end of "Knocked Up") tries too hard to elicit laughs as an Asian mob boss, and his jokes fall terribly flat.

But proving that what happens in Vegas doesn't have to stay in Vegas, the ending credits are the best part of the film — and they're what moviegoers will undoubtedly remember the most about "The Hangover."

Verdict: SEE IT!

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