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Two days before his wedding, Doug and his three friends drive to Las Vegas for a blow-out bachelor party they'll never forget. But, in fact, when the three groomsmen wake up the next morning, they can't remember a thing. For some reason, they find a tiger in the bathroom and a six-month-old baby in the closet of their suite at Caesars Palace. The one thing they can't find is Doug. With no clue as to what transpired and little time to spare, the trio must retrace their hazy steps and all their bad decisions in order to figure out where things went wrong and hopefully get Doug back to L.A. in time to walk down the aisle.
For more about The Hangover and the The Hangover Blu-ray release, see the The Hangover Blu-ray Review published by Kenneth Brown on December 14, 2009 where this Blu-ray release scored 3.5 out of 5.
Starring: Heather Graham, Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms, Zach Galifianakis, Justin Bartha, Ken Jeong
Director: Todd Phillips
» See full cast & crew
The Hangover Blu-ray Review
A hit-or-miss comedy nets a hit-or-miss Blu-ray release...
Reviewed by Kenneth Brown, December 14, 2009
Hype killed any chance I had to find happiness with The Hangover. For the first three weeks of its theatrical release, friends, colleagues, and critics raved about director Todd Phillips' triumphant return to his Old School roots. Summer moviegoers hoisted it on their shoulders, spreading tales of its infectious humor and seizure-inducing laughs. Reviews declared it the second coming of comedy; a sparkling bastion of hilarity in a sea of hollow blockbusters and dour dramas. But as my credit card slid through the box office window, I felt the pang of inevitable disappointment. Sure enough, The Hangover wasn't the second coming of comedy; it wasn't everything so many told me it would be. After patiently wading through an overwrought, twenty-seven minute first act, I braced myself for an onslaught of laughs. After grinning and chuckling through a half-hour of well-conceived gags, the majority of which had been spoiled by the film's theatrical trailers, I prepared for whatever third-act sucker punches would finally send me into seizures. Sadly, such blows rarely came. The Hangover had certainly entertained me, it even managed to lighten my mood and guarantee itself a spot on my shelf, but it never clinched a spot amongst my go-to comedies. Worth watching? Sure. Worth the wait? Not for me.
Days before their best friend's wedding, Phil Wenneck (Bradley Cooper), Stu Price (Ed Helms) and Alan Garner (Zach Galifianakis) throw the reluctant groom (Justin Bartha) the bachelor party of all bachelor parties, in Las Vegas no less. But when the trio wake up the next morning, they realize their best friend -- the man set to be married the next day -- is nowhere to be found. In his place is a hazy, alcohol-fueled hangover that effectively wiped their memory of the last twelve hours, a trashed hotel suite, a loose tiger, a former heavyweight champion (Mike Tyson), a baby, a naked man in the trunk of their car, a missing tooth, a hospital bracelet, and countless other clues to the bizarre events that transpired the night before. Desperately retracing their steps in an effort to find their friend, the bumbling trio have to answer for a stolen police cruiser, deal with a stripper (Heather Graham) one of them married, contend with a maniacal Asian drug lord (a hilarious Ken Jeong), and procure $80,000 (for reasons I won't spoil here). But can they find him before the wedding starts? Can they keep their significant others and their friend's fiancé calm? Can cheap heartstrings and a wild night teach them something about each other and friendship? Something that will change their lives forever? Though the film's various gags may be unpredictable, the answers to these questions (and more like them) are not.
The Hangover soars each time a piece of the boys' night on the town is revealed, but falls flat whenever Cooper, Helms, and Galifianakis are forced to push the plot along, stumbling from one clue to the next in an effort to solve an undeniably contrived mystery. Don't get me wrong, the actors do a fine job with the material they're handed, and each one proves himself to be a master of improvisation whose performance helps grant Phillips' rambunctious comedy momentum and soul. Unfortunately, their script is spotty and the story is poorly paced. The first half-hour lags, meandering toward an event that should have come within fifteen minutes. The characters are an odd assortment of clichés and caricatures; one-note misfits with sketchy arcs at best. The tale is desperate to please, trotting out inane scenarios that a hint of intelligence could have rendered unforgettable. Still, it's hard not to crack a smile, especially when Helms and Galifianakis -- two comedians we'll hopefully be seeing more and more of in the coming years -- revel in their character's insecurities, savaging the screen with scene-stealing expressions, smart pauses, and sharp resolve. Even so, it's the film's parade of supporting actors and cameos that draw the hardest laughs. Tyson, Jeong, Mike Eps, Jeffrey Tambor, Murray Gershenz, Rob Riggle, Dan Finnerty, and Gretchen Egolf pepper the boys' misadventures with wry wit and charm.
The Hangover, whether due to over-exuberant hype, all-too-revealing trailers, or simple personal taste, merely struck me as a decent distraction from the stresses of life. I laughed, but I have a difficult time remembering exactly what I laughed at. I grinned, but a good slice of New York-style pizza would have elicited the same reaction. I enjoyed myself, but I can think of a dozen genre classics, each of which I've seen dozens of times, that I would have enjoyed revisiting far more. Simply put, The Hangover is a funny, well-made flick that, at the very least, deserves a chance. Some will deem it the gut-buster of the year, some will be completely let down. But that's precisely what makes watching movies so exciting.
The Hangover Blu-ray, Video Quality
There's something inherently restrained about Warner's warm 1080p/VC-1 transfer; a satisfying, technically sound presentation that faithfully adheres to the tone and texture of The Hangover. Lawrence Sher's sun-splashed Nevada palette is bolstered by subtle primaries and inky blacks, fleshtones are lifelike and nicely saturated, and shadows are absorbing, all of which -- combined with striking contrast -- lend the image welcome depth and dimensionality. Detail is slightly less reliable, but still manages to impress. Close-ups of Galifianakis showcase every cavernous nook and jutting shard of his grizzled beard, Cooper's blood-spattered shirt is dotted with the evidence of a night long forgotten, and a harrowing trip to the desert puts the transfer's finer qualities on full display. Yes, soft shots are all-too-common sight, and yes, nighttime sequences aren't as sharp or refined as their daytime counterparts, but such negligible eyesores should be attributed to Phillips and Sher, not the disc's encoders. My lingering complaints? Edge enhancement has been applied (albeit judiciously), minor artifacting and noise creeps into the picture in a handful of scenes, and banding graces some of the more glaring lights on the Vegas Strip. Each issue is kept to a minimum, mind you, but each one nevertheless undermines the integrity of the presentation. Will fans be pleased? Absolutely. Will videophiles grumble? A bit. Regardless, The Hangover looks great, staying on target far more often than it slips off course.
The Hangover Blu-ray, Audio Quality
Despite all the drunken hijinks and jungle cat hilarity that frequents The Hangover, Warner's Dolby TrueHD 5.1 surround track is an unexpectedly front-heavy affair that fails to distinguish itself from the genre crowd. Dialogue remains clear, intelligible, and well-prioritized, commandeering the center channel just as it should, but directional effects are often overtly restrained and subdued. The rear speakers not only disappoint on far too many occasions, they struggle to create an immersive soundfield. Several scenes are more notable -- particularly those involving bursts of action, speeding cars, high stakes Black Jack runs, or strip club shenanigans -- but I rarely felt connected to the on-screen chaos, and even found myself wondering why the film's sound design is so two-dimensional. Regardless, the track is a competent one. Hearty LFE output packs some much-needed sonic punch into the mix, dynamics are reasonably strong, pans are smooth, and the film's soundtrack flexes enough muscle to leave a lasting mark. A more involving experience would have been appreciated, but I suspect Warner's TrueHD track is a fine representation of its source.
The Hangover Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Comedies normally serve up a treasure trove of supplemental content, but the Blu-ray edition of The Hangover offers very little of note. A Picture-in-Picture commentary falls terribly flat, and most of the remaining features, though presented in high definition, are aimless and unfulfilling. Aside from the fact that both the theatrical and unrated cuts of the film are included, I was completely underwhelmed by the entire package.
The Hangover Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
The Hangover failed to worm into my brain like it did with so many others, but I honestly blame the endless hype it's received. I wish I could go back and watch it without any interference. Sadly, its Blu-ray release doesn't help matters. While its video transfer delivers a faithful presentation, its TrueHD audio track is a bit too underwhelming and its supplemental package is a complete misfire (Picture-in-Picture commentary and all). I suppose fans of the film will find it to be an adequate disc, especially at such a low price, but I have a feeling everyone will be disappointed with some aspect of the release.
The Hangover: Other Editions
Blu-ray bundles with The Hangover (6 bundles)
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