The Hangover Todd Phillips

The Hangover Todd Phillips
Attention adult comedy class of 2009: your valedictorian is, hands down, The Hangover. Director Todd Phillips (Old School) equips the perfect cast with excellent writing, crafting an utterly entertaining caper with a twist.

The premise is zany road trip simple: two friends and a bizarre future in-law aim to honour their buddy Doug before he gets married, driving to Vegas for what promises to be a disgustingly fun time. By sunrise, their hotel suite is trashed and Doug is missing, forcing the completely wrecked trio to haplessly retrace their preposterous steps in a kind of bizarre coming-of-age, Memento-meets-Superbad tour de force.

In one sense, the just-over-30 males are archetypes: Phil (Bradley Cooper) is the smooth-talking, good-looking instigator looking for fun at all costs; Stu (the fantastic Ed Helms) forces himself into a straight-laced life to appease castrating girlfriend Melissa (the perfectly bitchy Rachael Harris); and Doug (Justin Bartha) is the classic, vanilla, "good friend," both dependable and harmlessly forgettable.

Then there's Doug's future brother-in-law, Alan, who's bat-shit insane, played with crazed fervour by comedian Zach Galifianakis. An underground comic hero now, Galifianakis's life is sure to change after conjuring an incredible character and stealing virtually every scene in The Hangover.

From the moment the three men wake up to the gut-busting credits this is a film where every scene and line is thoughtfully crafted for full-on comedic impact. Helms's obliterated countenance and conflicted persona are priceless; Cooper is a grating but likeable instigator; and Galifianakis just says and does the most preposterous shit.

Whether glaring bleary-eyed at Mike Tyson's tiger, which is inexplicably glaring back at him in his hotel suite's bathroom, or fighting his way through a brutal tasing, Galifianakis is a charismatic force in a strong ensemble piece.

Throw in cameos by Ken Jeong, as a Team America-esque super villain (who pretty much redefines the word "motherfucker"), sexy baby mama Heather Graham and Iron Mike himself and there's simply a lot to absorb and appreciate here.

A quick but well-paced comedy destined to bowl over audiences, The Hangover is a serious laugh-riot. (Warner)