Page 26 THE VILLADOM TIMES I & III • June 17, 2009 Bachelor party road trip takes unexpected turns by Dennis Seuling The first rule of comedy is that it should elicit laughter. This certainly is the case for “The Hangover,” a film that mixes 30-something guys heading to Las Vegas for a bachelor party with a mystery, creating gag after gag in the process. The comedy is unbridled thanks to its liberating R rating, so anything goes. Doug (Jason Bartha) will be married in a few days. His buddies, Phil (Bradley Cooper), Stu (Ed Helms), and Alan (Zach Galafianakis), take him to Las Vegas for a wild time before the nuptials. On this brief road trip, the guys are temporarily free of routine. Stu, a dentist, is in a relationship with a woman who always appears to be chiding him. School teacher Phil, with wife and child at home, can chill with his buddies the way he did in high school. Alan, Doug’s brother-in-law to be, an eccentric loner, finds camaraderie and friendship on the journey. When they arrive in Vegas, they make sure to get firstclass digs at a top hotel and head up to the roof to view the Vegas strip and toast their weekend. After a fade out, director Todd Phillips gradually fades back in. It’s morning, the hotel suite in shambles, the guys are passed out, and the groom-to-be is missing. In addition, there is a tiger in the State Line 375 State Highway 17 North, Mahwah Open 24 Hours, 7 Days Join Us For Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner The Best Got Better! Zach Galifianakis, Bradley Cooper and Ed Helms in ‘The Hangover.’ Diner - Restaurant 201-529-3353 Now Serving Cocktails, Espresso & Cappuccino $ 00 On $10.00 and over. With this coupon only. One Coupon per table. 5:00 to 9:00 pm only. Off 1 $ 00 VT On $20.00 and over. With this coupon only. One Coupon per table. 5:00 to 9:00 pm only. Off 2 bathroom, a baby in the closet, and Stu has a conspicuously missing tooth. At this point, the characters and the audience are equally perplexed. What happened? Desperate to piece together the lost evening in order to find their friend and get him safely to the altar, the guys draw upon every possible clue to find and interview assorted strangers who fill in parts of the puzzle. One encounter leads to the next as the clock ticks and Doug’s bride-to-be calls to find out when Doug will be back. The chemistry among the four principal actors is effortless and they are believable as friends. They are not portrayed as morons. For the most part, they are responsible men out for a good time. The exception is Alan, who moves through life on a private track. Alan is boisterous, immature, loud, and flouts generally accepted rules of civility. As the quartet let their hair down in the fun capital of America, they know real-life responsibilities must be faced before long. They do not delude themselves that Vegas will last forever. Several supporting character actors pop up to assist or stymie Phil, Stu, and Alan in their search for Doug. Director Phillips is wise to allow these folks to have their moments in the spotlight, layering the movie with ever more bizarre revelations. Ken Jeong, Jeffrey Tambor, Matt Walsh, Rob Riggle, and Eddie Palermo contribute a hefty share of laughs. There are also some hilarious big-name cameos. The structure of “The Hangover” resembles that of 2000’s “Dude, Where’s My Car?” In both films, guys who have partied too much attempt to reconstruct a night of hedonism. “The Hangover,” however, pushes the envelope with its R rating. For a time, Hollywood abandoned R-rated comedies, downgrading them to PG-13 to embrace a wider, younger audience. Some worked, but others seemed sapped of originality and daring. A “safe” comedy is not always the funniest one. “The Hangover” is geared for older teens and adults. The antics of the characters in the films are often sophomoric, but the script by Jon Lucas and Scott Moore takes time to provide depth to each of the four guys so that they never seem interchangeable. Each is different and each has his personal hang-ups, which figure naturally into the lostgroom mystery plot. On its surface, “The Hangover” appears to be a flick about men acting like boys out for a goofy fling. As the film unfolds, however, viewers see the craftsmanship of characterization, plot structure, buildup of suspense, and gag construction. Stick around for the end credits and watch carefully. There is some funny stuff there. 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