With the genre of comedy, it seems increasingly difficult to come up with something that feels “new”. Even if the movie’s story feel familiar it is tough to come up with a fresh take on it, with characters that are both funny and likeable. Other comedies fall prey to a director’s lack of vision, where instead of creating something on the screen that has a certain look and feel to it that makes it feel like a unique film director’s vision, with camera usage add layers to the film’s overall tone and themes of that particular scene, the filmmaker will create a bland, formulaic, and clichéd uninspired direction, praying the laughs will hold everything together and will be just enough. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. Never the less anyone can appreciate a great comedy, and when there is buzz about one that is high in quality, people do get even more curious about it. There are plenty of horrible comedies out there, and a lot of times with the genre it is a hit or miss. “The Hangover” (2009) was a film that was getting some great buzz around it and was said to be an instant classic. This is a great comedy, which feels fresh and original, with a stellar cast of actors and characters, and a great sense of the unpredictable hides most of the flaws.
The film’s story opens up with a man named Doug about to get married. Doug and his friends, Phil, Stu, and Alan head off to Las Vegas for a bachelor party. Phil, Stu, and Alan wake up from a massive hangover and cannot remember what happened the night before. They also cannot seem to find Doug. The group has to piece together what happen to them the night before and find Doug because he has a wedding to go to in one day.
The story we have all seen is the bachelor party in Las Vegas scenario, it has been done to death. This isn’t like anything we have seen before. Although there may have been some films dealing with similar story ideas, this one is a completely different take on that story. Screenwriters Jon Lucas and Scott Moore put together a brilliant script with a premise that is fresh and original. It drops the audience into a situation where they have no idea what’s happened or what’s about to happen, forcing the audience to place themselves in the characters, since you are going through the same thing as they are. You’re discovering everything as they are. The pacing of the script is nearly perfect, there is a moment or two where the pacing slows but that’s something easy to overlook. It’s funny when it wants to be and serious when it wants to be.
There are several people that are responsible for bringing this great script to life, but the main man behind it is director Todd Phillips. He creates a brilliant tone and feel for the film. It has a nice sense of fun but also one that we can take seriously. Not only that but the timing and direction set it apart from other comedies. Occasionally he’ll take his comedy too far, into places where it isn’t funny and is grosser than anything. Many directors make the mistake of gross for funny and at times this film does that. Raunchy and gross are also two separate things, one we can stand; the other one is just not funny. That being said Todd Phillips does a great job with the material and even has a really nice look for the film as well.
This movie is really funny. The laughs are created from a variety of ways. Some smart slapstick, pop culture references, funny situations, and some great smartly written dialogue between characters. Many moments will have you laughing hard and with the exception of a moment or two, the laughs never die down. Some moments are instantly memorable, some moments will make you chuckle, some moments you will be quoting along with your friends.
The other thing that makes this movie is the characters. All of them are likeable and fun. Each one different than the last with each a distinct personality, and weaknesses, they need each other to get through this. Phil is played by Bradley Cooper, a teacher that is a wannabe badass and is unhappy with his home life. Cooper is perfect in the role and brings everything he needs and shows he has star power. Ed Helms plays Stu, a dentist who isn’t completely like Andy Bernard from “The Office” but still very similar, however it’s something that can be passed over. Zach Galifianakis steals the show as the misunderstood and mentally unstable Alan, who does says and does some pretty messed up things but he is still very loveable. The best thing is they don’t overuse him, like so many other films that don’t know how to use their quote on quote “weird/funny” side character. Some movies use them too much while others underuse them, this struck the right balance. Justin Bartha is always likeable as Doug. Ken Jeong goes over the top as Chow, good for the role and has the right amount of screen time but does get a little annoying, that being said it isn’t a huge flaw since he doesn’t have many scenes he is involved in.
Good fresh comedies are hard to come by. The script was original and smart; the movie is funny even if it does once again try to be gross instead of funny. The directing is excellent, Todd Phillips proves to be an excellent director. The characters are likeable and fun, performed by great comedic actors. The humor is not for everyone but anyone with an open mind or anyone who enjoys a good comedy should this one a shot.