Before being known as the director of Joaquin Phoenix’s Joker, Todd Phillips was known for directing 18+ comedy films. And though he didn’t revolutionize the genre as much back then as he recently did with Joker, he still made some of the most decent comedy films of recent time, with the first Hangover film remaining one of the funniest 18+/adult-comedy films of the last few decades.
It may not be a very original take on comedy, but it’s definitely one of the most enjoyable examples of the genre and has a relatively authentic style, of which the imprints could be found even in a serious film like Joker. It’s no Sideways or Modern Times in terms of elevating the medium or the genre, but it’s a very well-made film on its own, especially compared to most adult comedies, which rely on the cheapest possible jokes.
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The Movie Review
The story surrounds protagonist Doug, who travels to Las Vegas with his friends Phil and Stu, as well as Alan, who’s the brother of his fiancée, Tracy. They travel in a Mercedes Benz that belongs to Tracy and Alan’s father to give Doug a bachelor’s party. They have a stay in Caesar’s Palace and have a fun experience there. It’s a scenario so lively that you begin to suspect there’s something wrong.
Wrong does indeed happen.
After they wake up, and can’t find Doug anywhere at all, and even completely lose their memories of the night before. Among other perks, there’s a tiger in the bathroom, a baby in the closet, and a chicken in the living room. Doug’s mattress is impaled to a statue, and their Mercedes happens to be gone too, and they’re given a police cruiser.
They learn more by investigating nearby places about what went wrong. After going to the hospital, they learn that they were drugged with Rohypnol, which most likely caused their memory loss. With each destination, they learn where they’d gone next. They go to the chapel where they learn that Stu had married a stripper named Jade, despite being in a long-term relationship with Melissa. And following an attack by gangsters, they rush to find Jade, only to be arrested by the police for taking a police cruiser.
They unveil the situation and gain the Mercedes back and from the opening of the car’s trunk and onward, there begin some of the most hilarious revelations and plot twists.
The best thing about the film, besides the cleverly comedic writing, is how surreal and dreamy the situations are. One’s left wondering about the real explanations of all that’s happening, and when they do happen, it all makes sense (albeit in a positively hilarious way). The characters are all very interesting, and fit, as well as contribute to the nature of the film very well. It’s a film where the comedic context is as funny as it is genuinely captivating, there exists a sense of mystery, which is unveiled in the funniest possible ways.
The co-writing of Jon Lucas and Scott Moore greatly makes the movie what it is. It’s witty, clever, and relatively original. Before Joker, Todd Phillips’ direction showed its best colors here. He fairly showed the storytelling potential that he would later excel in Joker. Normally, comedic films are not the most visually aesthetic, and mostly rely on a funny script, but The Hangover has appreciable cinematography. The original score complements the film nicely too.
The Bottom Line
The Hangover is a modern comedy classic, and one of the best adult-comedy films, considering the mediocre bar of that genre. It’s not extremely original, and not even Todd Phillips’ best work, but it’s extremely enjoyable, features fun characters, and has some of the most compelling comedy storylines.