Town Topics — Princeton's Weekly Community Newspaper Since 1946.
Vol. LXIII, No. 23
 
Wednesday, June 10, 2009
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Cinema

For more movie summaries, see Kam’s Kapsules.


WHAT HAPPENS IN VEGAS STAYS IN VEGAS: Doug (Justin Bartha, second from the right) is shown with his three buddies Alan ( Zach Galifianakas, left), Stu (Ed Helms second from left), and Phil (Brad Cooper, right) drinking a champagne toast in Las Vegas at the beginning of a celebration of his last night as a bachelor before he is to get married the next day. Unfortunately, Doug gets separated from his friends, and they spend his wedding day searching for him.

The Hangover: Groom-to-be Gets Lost in Vegas in Bawdy Buddy Film

Kam Williams

The day before Doug (Justin Bartha) is scheduled to get married, his pals decide to throw a bachelor party to commemorate his last day as a bachelor. After reassuring Doug’s fiancée Tracy (Sasha Barrese) that they’re only going to drive from Los Angeles to Napa Valley for a quiet evening of wine tasting, they borrow her father’s (Jeffrey Tambor) classic Mercedes convertible and head straight for Las Vegas because “What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas.”

Each of Doug’s buddies is eager to enjoy a wild night on the town; the family man Phil (Bradley Cooper), feels that his life is boring; Stu (Ed Helms) has been henpecked for three years by his girlfriend (Rachael Harris), who beats him; and Tracy’s brother Alan (Zach Galifianakis), is a registered sex offender who isn’t allowed to come within 200 feet of a school. Upon arriving, they check into a luxury suite at Caesar’s Palace where they toast “to a night none of us will ever forget.”

Unfortunately, that champagne toast is the only thing any of Doug’s groggy cronies can remember the next morning as they awaken and realize that Doug has disappeared. Suffering from their collective hangovers, they look around the hotel room for hints as to what might have happened to Doug. Stu discovers that he is missing a tooth, Phil finds that he has a hospital bracelet on one of his wrists, and Alan finds a baby in the closet and a tiger in the bathroom.

Without letting her know exactly where they are, Phil calls Tracy to inform her that “we’ve lost Doug.” When she reminds him that the wedding is in five hours, he matter-of-factly responds, “Yeah, that’s not going to happen.” This is the beginning of the plot for The Hangover, a mystery story directed by Todd Phillips (Old School).

It’s too bad that — in the process of unraveling the mystery of what happened to Doug — the picture probably oversteps the boundaries of good taste. The movie undermines itself by showing taboo subjects such as child molestation and date rape, all in the name of a cheap joke.

The image of a pedophile fondling a baby is so tasteless and offensive that it is guaranteed to prevent many viewers from enjoying the rest of the movie. Similarly, scenes featuring Mike Tyson — who in real life is a convicted rapist and who chewed-off an opponent’s ear in the ring — makes it hard to laugh at the jokes in the scenes that he appears in.

Nonetheless, there is still much to like about The Hangover. Most of Phil’s, Stu’s, and Alan’s antics are hilarious as they follow clues around Vegas in a frantic search for the missing groom. En route they encounter the prostitute (Heather Graham) whom Stu married in a drunken stupor, an irate Tyson who wants his tiger back, and an unhappy naked man who is bent on revenge (Dr. Ken Jeong), whom they find stuffed in the trunk of their car.

And through all this, Doug proves harder to find than Waldo.

Good (2 stars). Rated R for graphic sexuality, nudity, pedophilia, drug and alcohol abuse, and profanity. Running time: 100 minutes. Studio: Warner Brothers.

For more movie summaries, see Kam’s Kapsules.

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