Archive for Ed Helms

Pure Escapism Cures “The Hangover”

Posted in Comedy with tags , , , , , on March 15, 2010 by ericstraus

There’s nothing realistic about the zany trail of events befalling the characters in “The Hangover.”  The film’s makers know this and don’t bother to try and convince us otherwise, and that’s why the movie is successful in making us laugh for 100 minutes.  There’s also a refreshing lack of an attempt at character development, something that usually bogs down goofy comedies – we don’t have much background about the characters, and we don’t need it.  The jokes and ridiculous happenings stand on their own, and the result is a nice chuckle-fest.

Four friends head to Las Vegas for a bachelor party – Doug (Justin Bartha), the groom; Phil (Bradley Cooper), the best man and “playboy” type with an anti-marriage attitude (though he is married); Stu (Ed Helms), a somewhat nerdy guy stuck in a bad relationship; and Alan (Zach Galifianakis), Doug’s future brother-in-law with questionable grooming skills and a penchant for mind-altering substances and hilarious non-sequiters.  They toast to what they expect will be a memorable evening, and then the film fast-forwards to the following morning.  Phil, Stu and Alan wake up in their hotel room to find the place completely trashed, a live tiger in the bathroom, a tooth missing from Stu’s mouth, and a small infant in the closet.  None of them have any memory of the night’s activities, nor do they have any idea of Doug’s whereabouts.  The rest of the film is spent trying to figure out what happened, and most importantly, how to find Doug so he can make it back in time for his wedding.

As they piece together the night’s events, we see how implausible they all are, from stealing Mike Tyson’s tiger, to Stu marrying a stripper, to discovering they stole a police car, to finding a naked, violent Asian man in the trunk of their own car.  It’s all quite absurd, but the writing is clever and silly and very funny.  The characters are all likeable enough to make us root for them, but certainly not in any deep, emotionally connected way, and that’s how this type of film should be – irreverent, sometimes gross, and completely preposterous.  It reminds me of probably the only other truly funny movie about a bachelor party, which would be, well, “Bachelor Party,” starring Tom Hanks.  Like “The Hangover,” the jokes are funny, the events insane, and the characters undeveloped.  They say laughter is the best medicine, so I recommend high doses of these films to cure your ills.

Final grade for The Hangover: B+