The Hangover (2009)

the hangover

“I tend to think of myself as a one-man wolf pack.”

The Scoop: 2009 R, directed by Todd Phillips and starring Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms and Zach Galifianakis

Tagline: Some guys just can’t handle Vegas

Summary Capsule: Guys celebrating their friend’s impending marriage lose him… and that’s just the beginning

Justin’s rating: 3 out of 4 friends

Justin’s review: If the US government wants to really start raising money for whatever misguided programs they’re pushing through that week, then the smartest thing to do would be to enact a two-point tax on Hollywood: one for movies that feature, at some point, the iconic “Welcome to Las Vegas” sign, and one for movies that throw in the phrase “What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas” or a variation of such.  They’d wipe out the national debt in a couple months.  The Hangover would be taxed on both counts, for these clichés are standard for any film that goes near Sin City.

This was one of the rare times when my wife went out to see a movie before I ever did, and she’d chuckle anytime a Hangover commercial came on TV after that, as if laughing at some private joke that I wasn’t privy to, standing out in the cold wasteland as I was, looking hungrily into the window and wishing for just one taste of the funny.  Finally, we saw it together on DVD, and our lives re-synched.  A fairy tale ending.

If you’ve seen some of director Todd Phillips’ other outings – Road Trip and Old School come to mind – then it’s of little surprise that The Hangover is hysterical, a bit crude, and utterly memorable.  In this sweet little package he’s roped together Ed Helms, Bradley Cooper, and Zach “There’s No Way You Can Spell My Last Name Without Looking” Galifianakis for a bizarre trip through the aftermath of a bachelor party that nobody can remember.

In many ways, The Hangover is highly reminiscent (of all things) of Dude, Where’s My Car?, a movie that nobody ever admits to liking but many secretly do nonetheless.  Both have individuals who experience a wild night, wake up with amnesia, and then piece together ridiculous clues to figure out what really happened.  It’s kind of a road trip in reverse, and the audience – with no advance knowledge of what happened either – is along for the ride.

Although not 100% jam-packed with jokes as some led me to believe, this movie is thoroughly enjoyable and lacks not for many gut-bustingly funny parts.  This is greatly due to Helms and Gali… Galifazachalus… that other guy, who (no offense to Bradley Cooper) absolutely carry the film’s humor.  As all movie dentists are, Helms is a spineless, freaked-out wimp, and he wears that role like a finely-cut jacket.  But Zach… Zach floored me with the less-than-intelligent Alan, who becomes the film’s mental and literal punching bag.

Careening from one nutty experience to the next, in search of the truth and the location of their fourth friend (you know, the one about to be married), the trio deal with child-rearing, drug-dealing and bathroom tigers in stride.  As we all would.

After all, what happens in buddy comedies stays in buddy comedies.


  • Three sets of twins and a dummy were used to portray the baby.
  • No effects or prosthetics were created for Stu’s missing tooth. Ed Helmsnever had an adult incisor grow, and his fake incisor was taken out for the parts of filming where Stu’s tooth is missing.
  • Highest grossing R-rated comedy in the U.S. to its release date.

Groovy Quotes

Tracy Garner: What are you saying, Phil? We’re getting married in *five hours*.
Phil Wenneck: Yeah… that’s not gonna happen.

Stu Price: [while Alan adds pepper to the roofied steak] Why are you peppering the steak? You don’t know if tigers like pepper.
Alan Garner: Tigers *love* pepper. They hate cinnamon.

Alan Garner: You guys might not know this, but I consider myself a bit of a loner. I tend to think of myself as a one-man wolf pack. But when my sister brought Doug home, I knew he was one of my own. And my wolf pack… it grew by one. So there… there were two of us in the wolf pack… I was alone first in the pack, and then Doug joined in later. And six months ago, when Doug introduced me to you guys, I thought, “Wait a second, could it be?” And now I know for sure, I just added two more guys to my wolf pack. Four of us wolves, running around the desert together, in Las Vegas, looking for strippers and cocaine. So tonight, I make a toast!

Stu Price: So, uh, are you sure you’re qualified to be taking care of that baby?
Alan Garner: What are you talking about? I’ve found a baby before.
Stu Price: You found a baby before? Where?
Alan Garner: Coffee Bean.

Alan Garner: You probably get this a lot. This isn’t the real Caesar’s Palace is it?
Lisa: What do you mean?
Alan Garner: Did, umm… did Caesar live here?
Lisa: No.
Alan Garner: I didn’t think so.

Sid Garner: Remember, what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas. Except for herpes.

Stu Price: She’s got my grandmother’s Holocaust ring!
Alan Garner: I didn’t know they gave out rings at the Holocaust.

If you liked this movie, try these:

  • The Hangover Part II
  • Bachelor Party
  • Road Trip


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