Raise a glass to "Hangover"

Mon May 25, 2009 4:56am EDT
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By Michael Rechtshaffen

LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) - Before the Judd Apatow juggernaut rolled into the megaplex, director Todd Phillips was looking to be the buddy comedy's best buddy courtesy of 2003's "Old School."

Although there have been a couple of missteps in the interim -- 2006's "School for Scoundrels," for one -- he makes a welcome return to form with "The Hangover," a piercingly funny, twisted "whatever-happens-in-Vegas" caper that can't be faulted for not taking full advantage of its R rating.

Armed with a crack ensemble, including a surefire breakout turn by Zach Galifianakis, Warner Bros.' June 5 release has all the word-of-mouth makings of a sleeper summer smash. Phil (Bradley Cooper), Stu (Ed Helms) and the decidedly off Alan (Galifianakis) are unlikely the only groomsmen to have thrown a bachelor blowout in Vegas for their soon-to-be-betrothed pal, remembering nothing the next morning of the previous night's debauchery.

But chances are good that few have awoken hungover in a trashed Caesar's Palace luxury suite among wandering chickens, a crying baby in a closet and a very large tiger belonging to Mike Tyson.

Oh yeah, and the man of the hour (Justin Bartha) has gone missing, along with one of Stu's front teeth.

And then there's the matter of the hospital bracelet around Phil's wrist and the fact the claim ticket they hand to the hotel valet produces a Vegas police car.

Pretty much all will be explained over the course of the outrageous hour-and-a-half -- and what isn't will be quite graphically dealt with over the end credits.

The boundary-testing script, officially credited to the writing team of Jon Lucas and Scott Moore ("Ghosts of Girlfriends Past," "Four Christmases") provides the flexible template, but it's the deadpan comic timing of director Phillips and his terrific cast that's ultimately responsible for "The Hangover's" lasting effect.   Continued...