"Do you know where the Best Little Wedding Chapel is?” asks one of the clueless heroes of Todd Phillips’ raucous latest. “Sure,” says a testy doctor from the Las Vegas ER.
“It’s on the corner of ‘Fuck Off’ and ‘Get a Map’.” If you’ve caught the trailer, you already know The Hangover contains knockabout farce a-plenty involving one trashed hotel suite, taser-happy cops and a crooning Mike Tyson.
As that exchange proves, however, there’s oodles of verbal humour as well, Jon Lucas and Scott Moore’s inventively profane script missing few opportunities to tickle the funny bone as it charts the deranged aftermath of the ultimate Sin City stag night.
Marking a return to the sparkling form of Phillips’ earlier Road Trip and Old School, this thoroughly entertaining, often hilarious tale of three groomsmen sifting through the wreckage of a debauched evening that has left one of them (Ed Helms) missing a lateral incisor and all of them missing a groom (Justin Bartha) certainly delivers its fair share of ribald fratboy comedy.
In keeping with other recent ‘bromances’ like I Love You, Man and Role Models, though, The Hangover roots its outlandish elements in recognisably human relationships, Helms and Bradley Cooper’s attempts to locate Bartha’s Doug and get him to the church on time being motivated by a genuine sense of filial responsibility towards a needy, AWOL comrade.
It’s this that sends them and Doug’s future brother-in-law Alan (a film-stealing turn from stand-up comedian Zach Galifianakis) on a manic odyssey down The Strip that sees them minding a baby, returning a tiger, bonding with a stripper (Heather Graham) and dodging a demented Asian gangster (Ken Jeong).
The ensuing shenanigans are convoluted enough to fill two pictures, which probably explains why a follow-up is already in the works. The gags wouldn’t land half as well, though, if we didn’t engage with Phillips’ protagonists as they stagger blearily through their waking nightmare.
Indeed, it’s knowing we’ve all been there that ensures we do.
Succeeding equally well as rowdy romp, what-happened mystery and man-crush comedy, /The Hangover/ is an unexpected winner. If you’re at all squeamish about dentistry, though, you’d best leave before the end credits reveal how Helms came to lose that tooth.