[rating: 3/4]

While everyone’s focus on Warner Bros. summer releases was settled on “Terminator Salvation” and “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince,” they were busy sneaking in a summer comedy of epic proportions. Starring Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms and Zach Galifianakis, “The Hangover” follows three groomsmen who lose the groom in Vegas the night of his bachelor party and have to find him by figuring out what exactly happened the night before in order to get him back in time for his wedding. But instead of leaving the hilarity at that, director Todd Phillips (“Old School”) included a tiger, Heather Graham as a hooker and Mike Tyson.

The true gem of the film is stand up comedian Zach Galifianakis. Best known for “Live at the Purple Onion” and his Absolut Vodka shorts on the “Tim and Eric Awesome Show,” Galifianakis stole every scene he was in, whether it was wearing the most un-Vegas outfit available or carrying a baby around on his chest. Galifianakis’ pitch-perfect comedic timing took the film to a new level of hilarity that it couldn’t have reached before.

Directed by: Todd Phillips
Written by: Jon Lucas and Scott Moore
Starring: Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms, Zach Galifianakis
Running time: 100 minutes
Rating: R
Seen at: Boston Common Loews

But it is the chemistry between Cooper, Helms and Galifianakis that truly makes the film more than just a “bros have a crazy night in Vegas” comedy. For three actors from completely different ends of the comedy spectrum “" Cooper from “Yes Man,” Helms from “The Office” and Galifianakis from his stand up “" they work perfectly well together in their roles. There are poignant moments between the three leads as the film progresses that show, not just tell, that a bond has developed between the three men, especially between Cooper and Helms with Galifianakis. Galifianakis’ character of Alan “" the soon-to-be brother-in-law of groom Doug (Justin Bartha) “" was the awkward member of the group from the beginning who clearly didn’t belong, and whom Doug’s best friends Phil and Stu (Cooper and Helms) weren’t especially big fans of coming on their Vegas adventure. But by the end of the film, a real friendship develops in a subtle way that is rare to see on the big screen.

From the creators of “Old School,” this film has been pegged as a follow-up to the 2003 Will Ferrell classic. “The Hangover” is not only a follow-up “" it’s better. Taking the hilarious adventures to an entirely new level (you thought you knew the tiger would be hilarious from the trailers, but just wait), the film still manages to feel relate-able at its core. A story of three people becoming friends, of learning to stand up for what’s best for your happiness and of the true measure of responsibility is something all viewers can relate to.

While Phil, Stu and Alan’s adventures trying to find the missing Doug take up the bulk of the film’s 100 minutes of running time, an extra 20 to 30 minutes of added hilarity would have been for the film’s benefit. Advertisements for “The Hangover” made it clear that Phil, Stu and Alan did insane, ridiculous things while they were drunk, but by the time the ending credits started rolling, there was a sense of “that’s it?” To be clear, insane, ridiculous things did happen, but the film left telling the specifics of what exactly happened the night before (if you can write a timeline of exactly what happened, when, during that night after the first viewing, get back to me) to telling of the male bonding experience that occurred.

Without a doubt, go see “The Hangover.” In a summer of blockbuster comedies, “The Hangover” is shaping up to be the best one out there. If you have been itching for a sequel to “Old School” “" or just itching for something that will make your sides hurt from laughing too hard “" go see this movie.

About The Author

Terri Schwartz was a Blast Contributing Editor from 2008-2009.

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