Warner Bros. | 2009 | 108 mins. | NR

While I’ve always felt director/producer and screenwriter Todd Phillips was a talented guy—his documentaries Frat House and Bittersweet Motel are both high quality stuff—I never completely warmed to the fraternity style comedy that made up his two feature films, Road Trip and Old School. While both films provide a few laughs, it was in a seriously low-brow, brute force kind of way. While 2009’s The Hangover offers a few more laughs, I’m still not overly impressed. Granted, I understand I’m probably not the target audience for a film about four guys who go to Vegas for a bachelor party, get wasted, and wake up in the middle in the desert with no recollection of how they got there or what they did the night before.

The HangoverDoug Billings (Justin Bartha) is getting married in two days, and his best friends Phil Wenneck (Bradley Cooper) and dentist Dr. Stu Price (Ed Helms) are taking him to Vegas for his bachelor party. Much to their dismay, the groom’s future brother-in law Alan (Zach Galifianakis), is coming along as well. Doug is a fairly clean cut guy who doesn’t particularly want a bachelor party. Phil is a good looking, cool dude, a school teacher who uses his student’s field trip money to gamble. Phil is an ultraconservative, and involved with a woman who rarely lets him out of her site. In order to go to the bachelor party, he had to come up with an elaborate lie regarding his whereabouts. Alan is a truly scary guy; a pervert who has been court ordered to stay away from children. Stupidly, the bride’s father, Sid (Jeffrey Tambor), loans these guys his prized, vintage Mercedes convertible to drive to Vegas. It should be obvious to anyone that this isn’t going to be a quiet trip for dinner and a show.

With their palatial lodgings at Caesar’s Palace secured, the guys head to the roof for a round of shots before checking out the strip. The next morning, Doug is gone and the rest of the partiers awaken to what looks like the remnants of a tornado. Stu has lost a tooth. There’s a newborn baby in the closet. And there’s a real man-eating tiger in the bathroom. With no memory of what happened the night before, Phil, Stu, and Alan begin searching for the groom-to-be. Along the way, they run into an Asian gangster (Ken Jeong), Mike Tyson, a drug dealer (Mike Epps), are forced to explain a stolen police car, and Stu’s quickie stripper bride Jade (Heather Graham)—but still no Doug.

If you enjoy humor derived from men deliberately choosing to do dumb things, the comedy found in The Hangover is for you. To give you a more concrete example: Alan the child molester takes charge of the baby and forces it to make obscene gestures. For me, that was disturbing. Having said that, there’s no doubt that Justin Bartha, Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms, and Zach Galifianakis all have some real comic talent, so hopefully we’ll be seeing a lot more of them in them in the future. The problem here is that the script written by Jon Lucas and Scott Moore, spends too much time pandering to the lowest common denominator.

Warner Brothers has provided The Hangover with a fairly solid 1080p/VC-1 transfer. 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 lend the image welcome depth and dimensionality. Detail is slightly less impreessive, but still stands out. Close-ups of Galifianakis show every cavernous nook and jutting shard of his grizzled beard. Soft shots are all-too-common sight, and 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. Edge enhancement has been applied, 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, but does undermines the integrity of the presentation.

Warner’s Dolby TrueHD 5.1 surround track is a front-heavy mix that fails to distinguish itself. 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. 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.

The disc includes English, French, Spanish, and Portuguese spoken languages; French, Spanish, and Portuguese subtitles; and English captions for the hearing impaired.

Aside from the theatrical and unrated versions of the film, the special feature is a picture-in-picture commentary in which director Todd Phillips is joined by cast members Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms, and Zach Galifianakis. While there’s some humor here and some fun stories, much is just the four guys sitting around watching the movie in unison with us.

Next, is The Madness of Ken Jeong, an eight minute collection of alternate scenes, outtakes and improvised moments featuring Ken Jeong’s character. Worth watching at least once is the eight minute Gag Reel containing yet more outtakes and flubs from the making of the movie.

Rounding out the special features on the disc are an interactive Map of Destruction which allows us to retrace the steps from that mysterious night in Vegas, a still gallery called More Pictures from the Missing Camera which contains some remarkably funny pictures of Alan, a forty-second Action Mash Up (nothing more than a collection of action scenes from the film), a clip of The Dan Band singing Fame, and the full one minute version of the guys doing The Best Friend Song from the movie. Animated menus and chapter selection are included on the disc as is some Blu-ray Live Functionality. All of these extras are in high definition, and all of them were included on the previous Blu-ray release of the film.

Exclusive to this Extreme Edition re-release are two new items not found on the Blu-ray disc itself. The first is a hardcover booklet including thirty some odd pages of photographs taken during the bachelor party, some of which are pretty funny and quite a few of which appear in the still gallery on the disc itself. The second exclusive is a soundtrack CD sampler that contains five songs: the Theme from The Hangover, Stu’s Song, the Baja Men’s Who Let The Dogs Out, Stupid Tiger, and Candy Shop.

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