I reviewed The Hangover when it was a big hit in June, then watched as it snowballed into a phenomenon. It’s the fourth top-grossing movie of 2009 to date and the only one that isn’t animated or a sequel or a reboot, and it did well overseas, which is rare for a U.S. comedy. Naturally a followup is on the way. Equally expected: A chorus of complaints, saying that the movie is overrated, wasn’t that funny, and that anyone who liked it was and is a douche.
Sorry, haters. You’re the douches. I’ve seen the movie a second time, on standard DVD , and with seven minutes added in to boot. And I laughed again, less at the situations then at their construction. I own about a jillion DVDs but relatively few are comedies; once I’ve chuckled, chortled, and/or guffawed, that’s it, I’m done. But The Hangover has a fine ensemble cast that runs with a better-than-average script (and better-than-average riffing off it), and I enjoyed being hungover again. The sweetness of Heather Graham’s misogyny-taming appearance stood out the second time around, and my disappointment at Mike Tyson’s cameo was lessened on the small screen. (These are standard in comedies these days; Tyson was a good idea, but he plays himself better in James Toback’s recent documentary. Lou Ferrigno, genuinely funny in I Love You, Man, should have coached him.) Ken Jeong rocks—if you don’t laugh at his gangsta shit you’re clearly a douche.
The Unrated edition of The Hangover is something of a tease, as most of these unrated editions tend to be. Granted I’m not a student of the film, but nothing struck me as essential, save for a little more of the theatrically shortchanged Jeffrey Tambor; most of it is scene extensions, which add minutes to the running time but neither add nor subtract to its overall humor. The only thing that’s truly “unrated,” as in eyebrow-raising, is a shot during the closing credits, which somehow passed the MPAA in its R-rated theatrical release. (Both versions are available in this two-disc edition—if you’re on a deadline and need to laugh by a certain hour check out the shorter version, otherwise luxuriate in those extra minutes of male bonding.)
Not produced as meticulously as, say, Gone With the Wind, The Hangover looks OK on DVD. It was never likely to win any tech awards and the disc follows suit. Be advised, though, that the movie is the main attraction—the special features, which are clustered on the second, theatrical version disc, are as throwaway as everyone suspected the movie might be when it was released in the jaws of the summer movie season. There’s an uninspired locations map of Las Vegas landmarks shown in the film, a standard-issue gag reel, a pointless “action mash-up” of the movie’s physical comedy, some more of those notorious (but less notorious) missing camera pictures, and improv from Jeong, who perfected his characterization where it counted.
The film also includes a commentary track by bad boys Bradley Cooper, Zach Galifianakis, and Ed Helms, who “freestyle” a song in an additional extra. They’re joined by director Todd Phillips, in a fitful session that takes in Aristotle’s Poetics, Sartre’s influence on the film, the efficacy of a public option, and someone’s tits. —Bob Cashill
The Blu-ray edition of The Hangover includes everything you’ll find on the DVD, natch, and adds a brilliantly crisp 1080p transfer and perfectly serviceable Dolby TrueHD soundtrack in the bargain. You also get a handful of exclusive special features: The commentary track is presented via picture-in-picture, allowing you to watch Galifianakis, Helms, Cooper, and Phillips sit in a screening room while they chat; there’s a totally inessential “cursing mash-up” that compiles the movie’s swear-y bits; you get a standalone version of Tyson’s “In the Air Tonight” cover; and, of course, you can use BD-Live to access a shifting roster of features that don’t really add much to the movie.
The Hangover looks surprisingly great in hi-def — you don’t expect to care one way or the other about the visual upgrade in a title like this, but the movie’s Vegas backdrop affords the opportunity for plenty of shots that take advantage of the picture, both via the blinding blues of the desert and the inky blacks of the Strip at night. It’s nothing that you’ll pull out as a demo for your last-gen friends, but if you want to own the movie, this is the version to get; it’s currently selling for less than $16 at Amazon, a heckuva bargain even without the digital copy bundled in with the Blu-ray. —Jeff Giles
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