What is it about Las Vegas that makes people act so crazy? Do tourists feel they need to live up to the reputation of this neon-saturated den of debauchery? Or maybe going out of your way to visit a gambling utopia created by mobster Bugsy Siegel is asking for trouble to begin with. Either way, the Las Vegas Film Commission probably loves that a place known for gambling debts, moral and political corruption and temporary marriages is a constant setting for comedies.
The four leads of The Hangover are a giddy groom-to-be (Justin Bartha) and his nutty groomsmen (Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms and Zach Galifianakis) who wake up in their Vegas suite after a night of pre-nuptial partying and find that they can’t remember a thing that happened the night before but have lots of physical proof that whatever occurred was highly illegal and could lead to multiple arrests.
As directed by Todd Phillips, the man behind Old School, this stupid comedy is occasionally hilarious, but doesn’t cash in on its promise. The cast is both an asset and a problem: Bartha, who stole both National Treasure movies playing Nicolas Cage’s snarky sidekick, is mostly absent, which is a real mistake—the guy could carry a comedy by himself. Another misstep was casting Galifianakis, a poor substitute for Will Ferrell. Ferrell could’ve played the role of the deadbeat slob in his sleep and still have been funnier. That leaves Cooper, the villain of Wedding Crashers, and Helms, who is playing an R-rated version of his character from The Office, to carry the movie—and they almost pull it off.
Some very raunchy, out-there gags make this more memorable than it deserves to be, especially a sequence involving a tiger, another with two crooked cops abusing the trio for the amusement of sadistic children and a Mike Tyson cameo. The jokes are no-holds-barred, but the best the movie can come up with are cheap laughs. Even Dude, Where’s My Car? got more comic mileage out of the what-happened-last-night scenario. The plot sloppily connects one joke to another but has no respect for story or character. The people on screen are as real and fleshed out as figures in a one-joke SNL skit.
The movie has a howlingly hilarious scene that plays during the end credits and reveals a major plot point. It is, by far, the film’s funniest moment. Yes, that’s right, the end credits are the best thing in the movie. Is it worth top admission price to see them? No. Wait to see this on DVD or watch it the next time you’re in Vegas. You can sit back and take comfort in knowing that, no matter how badly behaved you are, you’re a saint next to these guys. MTW