Todd Philips returned this past summer with a hit on his hands that rivaled his earlier must-see (Old School). With a cast of known-but-not-really actors, Philips directed a $35 million dollar comedy about waking up in Las Vegas with a brutal hangover. Whether you could relate to the film or not seemed irrelevant, as thousands of others did as the film worked its way towards a cool $459 million worldwide in box office receipts. Not only did the film rack up the ticket sales but it also received copious amounts of critical appraise, earning a standing 78% on RottenTomatoes. Not bad for an all-guy raunch comedy.
They planned a Vegas bachelor party that they would never forget. Now they really need to remember what exactly went down! A baby? A tiger? Why is one of them missing a tooth? And most of all, where is the groom?! What the guys did while partying can’t compare to what they must do sober in an outrageous caper that has them piecing together all their bad decisions from the night before– one hazy clue at a time. Director Todd Phillips (“Old School”) and an all-aces comedy cast tie one on… big time!
The film is quite ridiculous in nature and I have to say that the final execution of the “mystery” in the film was quite well done. There were enough clues dropped along the way if you were looking for it, but if you were like me and just expected some mindless entertainment from the man who brought you a streaking Will Ferrell, then you ended up with a much more intelligent comedy than you expected. Although there was the masturbating baby bit, so that kind of automatically negates that comment, but still. This is a film with a talented cast that took what could be a very cliché story and made it one of the breakout hits of the year.
Honestly the cast may not look like much to the uninformed, but I’d known of these gentleman for years. Well not so much of Justin Bartha, but he’s not in the film all that much for it to matter. But Bradley Cooper and Zach Galifianakis I knew from various other films and online skits and Ed Helms was a Daily Show and The Office alumni so I was eager to see him in something a little more prominent. In all I certainly wasn’t disappointed by what they all brought to the table, as they each played to their strengths impeccably. It was a truly remarkable and hilarious collaboration between Philips and the main cast.
What was so great was the film kept you guessing while at the same time just enjoying the hijinks that went on. From Ken Jeong’s ridiculous introduction to the subsequent appearances of his character on the screen to the blackjack playing by Galifianakis’s character, the entire film kept on its toes and remained fresh from start to finish. The fact most of it was packed into a single day helped keep the time element in your head as well. And, again, the clues that the film dropped throughout it made it an almost genuine mystery of sorts, as long as you didn’t pay too close attention. In essence it was a perfect comedy, with scads of humor (some of it raunchy, some of it…even raunchier) and a plot that didn’t just feel completely superfluous to the action going on around it.
Whether it’s the chemistry between the actors in the film, the ridiculous tiger situations or the eternal question of what the chicken was about, everything about this film just worked for me. I didn’t think I’d love it as much as I did going into it, but it is a much smarter comedy than I imagined I’d be getting. Plus my dad even liked it—which is surprising, not only because he rarely likes anything but also because the movie was so raunchy I was sure it’d turn him off. Overall this is a Highly Recommended comedy and one that will surely find its way under many a tree this holiday season.
Warner brings the money printing comedy to Blu-ray in a standard two-disc set. The second disc is the digital copy so most of what you want is going to be on the first disc. The set itself arrives in a standard Elite Blu-ray case with an insert for the digital copy and warnerblu rewards redemption code (which, if you haven’t noticed, is the exact same code). A cardboard slipcase is included on the exterior, but it’s the same information you get from the insert below it. The set does include both the theatrical and unrated versions on one disc and you can choose which version you want. There is an eight minute difference between the films so there’s definitely some new material to take in, but honestly I noticed it more for not recognizing the footage than something that truly added to the experience of the film…although it certainly didn’t hurt it any either.
Video arrives in the form of a VC-1 encoded 1080p transfer that looks…well, great. It’s a modern film and although there is plenty of cinematography to take in, it’s a pretty straightforward transfer from start to finish. There is some grain to check out, particularly during the desert sequences, but other than that the transfer is pretty straightforward and clean looking. Strong detail whenever we zoom in on Cooper’s stubble or Galifianakis’s wild beard and the clothes and environments exude detail as well. Plus the beautiful daytime sequences are impeccable looking as well.
The audio mix, a TrueHD 5.1 transfer, is also quite diverse. The film, being a comedy, finds its home first and foremost in the front channels but it branches out into the surrounds on occasion. Usually it’s the soundtrack that does it, but other times its screams, yells, or sound effects from the hotel room as the men all wake up. Subwoofer output is rather limited, but it does wake up on occasion as well to let you know it’s still there. Overall the TrueHD mix doesn’t disappoint for what this movie is. The film is also available in French and English DD5.1 as well as DD5.1 Spanish on the Theatrical Version only. Subtitles arrive in English SDH, French, and Spanish.
Extras aren’t quite as impressive as one would hope, but there’s still some worthwhile content to check out. Included:
PIP Commentary with Bradley Cooper, Zach Galifianakis, Ed Helms and Todd Philips
“Map of Destruction” (15 minutes) – Re-trace each step the guys took during their fate-filled evening and see the real locations, learn about their Las Vegas lore and see the filming that took place there.
“The Madness of Ken Jeong” (7:38) – Ken Jegon’s nonstop hilarious improv.
“Action Mash-Up” (0:30) – Compilation of all the physical comedy from the film.
“Three Best Friends Song” (1:52) – Cooper, Helms, and Galifianakis “freestyle” their own song.
“The Dan Band!” (1:06) – The Dan Band performs “Fame.”
Gag Reel (8:43)
More Pictures from the Missing Camera – More photos exposing the events from the night of mayhem.
EXCLUSIVE CONTENT: “Iron Mike Online Teaser”
EXCLUSIVE CONTENT: “Cursing Mash-Up” (0:51)
I’m only going off of what the PR has to say about the runtime of the “Cursing Mash-Up” as it’s BD-Live extra not online yet as of this writing. Still, the rest of the set is pretty solid. Well, ok, it’s pretty weak; the core extras never breach more than ten minutes, but the PIP commentary on the theatrical cut of the film really helps the hurt of any other excessive amount of deleted scenes or anything. Plus the 100 pictures from the night are a riot to look at and more of Ken Jeong is never a bad thing. Plus the gag reel was pretty decent—I’m glad it wasn’t just a short little two minute burst but a fairly lengthy compilation.
I’m sure we’ll see another edition of this film when the sequel comes out (and yes, there will be a sequel) but for now you can’t really go wrong with this release. It’s pretty cheap and the content is strong enough to warrant an addition to your collection. Besides, you know you’ll watch this over and over again while you wait for the sequel in 2011. Recommended.
The Hangover arrives on Blu-ray on December 15th.