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The Hangover an intoxicating good time
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The Hangover an intoxicating good time
by Albert Rodriguez - SGN A&E Writer

The Hangover Opening June 5

You've seen this movie before - a group of guys head to Vegas for a bachelor's party and get tangled up with hookers, local police, and seedy characters. There's lots of booze, nudity here and there, a bitchin' soundtrack, a wedding chapel scene, and casino shots a plenty.

So if you're going to re-hash a concept that's been tried before, even with horrible results (Very Bad Things, anyone?), you may as well go for louder, crazier, wackier, vulgar-er, and ultimately funnier. The Hangover, a new film starring a reliable cast led by Bradley Cooper (Nip/Tuck), succeeds in most, if not all, of these departments.

Doug Billings (Justin Bartha) is two days away from marching down the aisle when he embarks on an overnight trip to Sin City with best friend Phil (Cooper), dentist buddy Stu (Ed Helms), and almost brother-in-law Alan (comedian Zach Galifianakis). After checking into a swanky villa at Ceasars Palace, the 30-something quad begin the festivities atop the hotel's roof with a Jagermeister toast. From there, it's entirely downhill.

Signs of a wild night appear in the next scene: beer-can pyramids, smoke rising from an electronic device, live chicken on the loose, tilted flatscreen, feather boa draped over a lamp, a full grown tiger in the bathroom, and a crying baby in a closet. No one seems to remember a thing, and it's quickly discovered that the groom-to-be is missing - that's right, gone with just 24 hours to get him back home for the wedding. With no memory of the previous night's chain of events, thanks to a surprise ingredient in their drinks atop that roof, the only way to find Doug's current whereabouts is to retrace their steps upon arrival.

As information is pieced together from various sources, we learn that one of the men got hitched to a prostitute, the silver Rolls Royce they drove into Vegas has been replaced with a stolen police car, a broken tooth was part of a stupid dare, and the tiger actually belongs to a well-known athlete. Enter a flamboyant Chinese man named Mr. Chow, who mysteriously leaps out of a trunk buck naked, plus a liquor store clerk/drug dealer, and the plot becomes a bit zanier.

Similar to dude flicks like Superbad, The 40-Year-Old Virgin, and Role Models, The Hangover is a film about guys, for guys - it's intended for a young male demographic, and it works. Homoerotic references are everywhere, something that grew from the American Pie franchise in the late '90s and has been welcomed by Gay movie fans. During a scene in which Phil calls Stu "Dr. Faggot," I laughed as much as the guy sitting next to me, a Seattle Art Institute student who I befriended minutes before the start of the film. I also thought a scene, in which a jock strap-wearing Alan hugs a surprised yet receptive Doug, was hilarious and strangely cute - we seldom see straight men showing affection to one another, though we know they're capable of doing so.

Eye candy is provided first and foremost by Bartha, who's steadily gained popularity from Failure to Launch and both National Treasure blockbusters. His bookend appearance in The Hangover gives him little screen time, but when he's on the screen you just can't look away. Cooper, who stripped to his underwear on this season's Nip/Tuck, will undoubtedly see his star rise with this role and an upcoming stint as the Green Lantern. Galifianakis is one of America's top comedy performers, packing audiences to sold-out shows from Seattle to New York - his inexperienced acting chops are evident, though he's such an oddball you can't help but laugh just by his presence in every scene. Incidentally, Galifianakis is the lone cast member to bare any skin in the film - twice, in fact. Helms is widely known for playing Andy Bernard in the Emmy Award-winning series The Office and is delightfully maniacal in this motion picture.

The Hangover isn't anything special; it isn't competing for any awards or critical acclaim. This is a movie that isn't supposed to be taken seriously, there's nothing in it with an ounce of seriousness - it's all fun and games. In attempting to be hysterical and silly, it makes its case, and there were many times the capacity-filled theater erupted in thunderous laughter. I was quite entertained by it, and will take my straight roommate to a screening of it for his birthday when it opens this weekend - what's not to love about booze, harmless shenanigans, and a backdrop of Vegas, nicely promoted with gratuitous exterior and interior shots?

You can form a queue with the pretentious types for a SIFF screening, or you can see The Hangover and double your fun. If what you really want is a good dose of the giggles, the line starts here.
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