Directed by Todd Phillips
Todd Phillips' "The Hangover" was, without a doubt, the most succesful comedy of 2009 and can likely be called one of the most succesful of its entire genre, a movie subtype I'd refer to as frat or bro comedies, two terms that have likely already been coined and copyrighted (Please don't sue me!). Not only did pretty much every person between the ages of 15 and 35 see "The Hangover," it also garnered significant critical praise and, somewhat unexpectedly, won this year's Golden Globe for best comedy or musical. Although not a bad film, I didn't find myself as enthralled by Phillips morning after saga as I thought I would be.
Two groomsmen head off to Vegas with their soon to be married buddy and his eccentric, socially awkward brother for a night of carousing and mayhem. We only see the very beginning of the night's events before cutting immediately to the morning after where we find the two groomsmen and and the groom's brother waking up in their trashed hotel suite with no idea what happened the previous night. Worse still, they've lost the groom a day before his wedding. The three buddies set off to locate the whereabouts of their buddy and, perhaps more importantly, find out what the heck happened to them the previous night.
"The Hangover" has plenty of amusing bits and running gags, as well as one truly excellent cameo, that make the whole thing a pleasantly raucous if not completely groundbreaking experience. I rarely expect much more than a few hearty laughs from this type of fare but the critical praise for Phillips' film made me cautiously optimistic that this would be a comedic gem which, I'm sure you've already gathered by my tone, I don't think it is. Sure, it's often quite funny but it lapses into juvenile or facile humor too often and allows a few plainly unfunny bits to dampen the effect of its better parts. This isn't to say that it's completely low brow comedy, however. "The Hangover" is fairly well written, well acted, and for the most part stays away from fart and poop jokes that often populate comedies who are trying to appeal to the basest comedic tastes of filmgoers. Nevertheless I can't say that I understand the critical praise heaped on Philips' film since it isn't entirely succesful, in my humble and, albeit, sometimes grouchy opinion, in being what films like "The Hangover" are supposed to be -- undeniably and unfaillingly funny. This doesn't mean I expected "The Hangover" to have me laughing so hard my sides hurt and my eyes watered but I didn't expect to go through large chunks of the film without so much as a grin, which I did a few times at least.
A review of a film like "The Hangover," either positive or negative, is, easily called into question since what constitutes "funny" varies widely from one viewer to the next. Based on the critical reception "The Hangover" enjoyed, as well as its box office success, maybe I'm just one of the few who has a poor sense of humor and needs to lighten up. Those who know me may indeed feel this is the case. However, I think one's opinion of a film like "The Hangover" will always, in the end, be heavily dependent on personal taste since its a film that stakes its entire success on making its audience laugh. It's therefore unsurprising that some will laugh more than others.