Warner Bros. // 2009 // 108 Minutes // Unrated
Reviewed by Appellate Judge Daryl Loomis (Retired) // October 27th, 2010
To a night we'll never remember.
The surprise hit comedy of 2009 is back with a Blu-ray double dip; it's plain silly to put out another edition of the film less than a year after the original release. What does this cash grab, which Warner has dubbed the "Extreme Edition," offer fans that the original did not? Two whole things, and neither is worth it on any level.
Three friends and a future brother-in-law do what all cliche-bound men do before a wedding: Vegas! They head to Sin City looking for one last night of single guy fun, but "what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas" takes on a whole new meaning for these partiers. When they wake up the next morning, they find a tiger chilling in the bathroom, and a baby in the closet, but they can't find the groom. With no memory and three massive hangovers, they must piece together their evening so they can find him and get him down the aisle.
The overwhelming popularity of The Hangover may well poison first-time viewers against liking the film, which is unfortunate because, though it's not a classic in any sense, it's a solid all-around comedy. It isn't the raunch-fest that'll have you rolling in the aisles, but it's a good movie. That should suffice, but if one goes into it expecting more than that, they'll likely come away disappointed. The situation is simple and straightforward, but the writing is tight and the jokes start out of the gate. The Hangover is driven more by character than plot and the relatively unknown cast does a great job of milking laughs out of the scenario.
As the film begins, there's not a lot to like about any of the characters. They're four typical jackasses looking for booze and strippers in Vegas, which is great and all, but not really my scene. In any case, there's little endearing about them at all. We have the groom, Doug (Justin Bartha, Failure to Launch), who's marrying rich and brown-nosing his future father-in-law (Jeffrey Tambour, Arrested Development); Phil (Bradley Cooper, The A-Team), an elementary schoolteacher and the ringleader of the festivities; Stu (Ed Helms, The Office), a tightly-wound family man who is terrified his wife will find out he's gone to Vegas instead of Napa; and Alan (Zach Galifianakis, Dinner for Schmucks), the socially bankrupt and generally bizarre brother of the bride. Together, these greenhorns appear ripe for destruction at the hands of Las Vegas.
This is, of course, exactly what happens, but director Todd Phillips (Old School) is smart not to actually show the events as they occur. Anyone dumb enough to have gone too far and lost all memory of the previous night's fun knows that the game is in piecing back the details (Why am I in a suit? On the side of a mountain? With a black eye? All mysteries to this day). We catch them in the aftermath, and their only road to finding Doug is to figure out what the heck happened last night. It's a solid setup for the comic reveals and a good framework for the actors to move around in.
The performances make the film entirely. The lead cast wasn't so well known when they made The Hangover, but their work here helped to jumpstart their careers. While Bartha doesn't have much going on as the lost groom, the other three share the stage with equal vigor. Ed Helms, whose work on television has been fantastic, is great here as the cuckolded friend who is reluctant to go in the first place, but who causes more trouble than anybody. Bradley Cooper, primed as a big new action star, plays a fine straight man here, trying hard to keep his composure in the face of such supreme idiocy. Zach Galifianakis is the premier idiot in the equation, and is absolutely perfect as the worthless and disgusting brother-in-law, jockstrap and all. Together, they're a great ensemble, but it's the various cameos that help make the film memorable. As a lead actress, I've never seen much value in Heather Graham (Miss Conception), but in small parts, I find her delightfully funny. She's brilliant here as the stripper mom, completely owns the end credit photographs, and she's my favorite part of The Hangover. Ken Jeong (Knocked Up) comes in briefly in an inexplicable part. He's extremely funny, but I have little clue what the character is supposed to be. Then we have Mike Tyson, the feared heavyweight champ whose tiger the boys steal, who plays himself just fine. It's a novelty to have him there, but something that wears thin with multiple viewings.
The Hangover is a fun movie, so any release will be worth something on some level, but Warner's Blu-ray new release of the film is one of the most unnecessary, cash-grabbiest double dips I've ever seen. There are a whole two differences for this release, and I'm hardly impressed. The image transfer and sound mix are both perfectly great, but they're the same as the original release, of which Judge Patrick Bromley has done a fine write-up in his review. The extra features, though, are simply irritating. We have one good entry, a collection of outtakes called "The Madness of Ken Jeong," in which the man acts completely foolishly, and it's hilarious. Outside of that, it's all pointless. The audio commentary, featuring Phillips, Cooper, Helms, and Galifianakis, seems potentially amusing, but not only are they not very funny talking about the film, it's a picture-in-picture commentary, which is a terrible idea. Not only is it completely uninteresting to watch four people watch a movie, you can't see a full quadrant of screen; it's a total failure. The making-of featurette is broken up into an entirely worthless setup called "Map of Destruction." By description, we can retrace each step the guys took during the movie where we'll learn about Vegas lore. When you scroll through the cheesily animated screen, you find out fun tidbits like it was fun for the cast to film at Caesar's Palace. Great. An action mash-up, compiling the physical comedy in the film, is plain stupid. The "Three Best Friends" song is not as funny as it's meant to be and the Dan Band! performing "Fame" is as annoying as I expected it to be. BD-Live functionality isn't very interesting, the gag reel isn't even close to as funny as it should be, and a gallery of photos not shown in the film finish us out on the disc. So what's the difference in the Extreme Edition? First, a soundtrack sampler. If there's one song I don't need in my collection, it's "Who Let the Dogs Out?." Second, a physical wedding album. It's a nice-looking package, but it's just a shabbily put together collection of the photographs we've already seen.
I like The Hangover quite a bit, but there's absolutely no reason to buy this Extreme Edition of the film. It's a shameless gouge by Warner Bros. on the fans, and if you haven't seen the film before, the old edition is probably cheaper now. Go buy that.
The film is not guilty, but Warner should be ashamed of themselves for this
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Warner Bros.
* 2.40:1 Non-Anamorphic (1080p)
* TrueHD 5.1 Surround (English)
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (French)
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (Spanish)
* English (SDH)
Running Time: 108 Minutes
Release Year: 2009
MPAA Rating: Unrated
* Theatrical Version
* Gag Reel
* Photo Gallery
* Photo Book