Zach Galifianakis Stars In 'The Hangover'

Actor and comedian Zach Galifianakis has already had a long career in comedy, including a show on VH1 and numerous late-night appearances.

He's starring in the movie The Hangover, which hit No. 1 in its opening week.

'The Hangover': A Night To (Not) Remember

Zach Galifianakis, Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms and Justin Bartha in 'The Hangover' i i

Dumb, Dumber, Drunk And Drunker: Alan (Zach Galifianakis), Phil (Bradley Cooper), Stu (Ed Helms) and Doug (Justin Bartha) head to Sin City with plans for an off-the-hook stag party in Doug's honor. Warner Bros. Pictures hide caption

itoggle caption Warner Bros. Pictures
Zach Galifianakis, Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms and Justin Bartha in 'The Hangover'

Dumb, Dumber, Drunk And Drunker: Alan (Zach Galifianakis), Phil (Bradley Cooper), Stu (Ed Helms) and Doug (Justin Bartha) head to Sin City with plans for an off-the-hook stag party in Doug's honor.

Warner Bros. Pictures

The Hangover

  • Director: Todd Phillips
  • Genre: Shock-jock comedy
  • Running Time: 100 minutes

Rated R: Profanity, male nudity, urination, sexual act, cartoonish violence, drug and alcohol abuse

With: Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms, Zach Galifianakis, Justin Bartha

Zach Galifianakis, Ed Helms and Bradley Cooper in 'The Hangover' i i

Viva Las Vegas: After losing the groom — and all memory of the night before — Phil, Stu and Alan embark on an epic quest to reconstruct events and find the errant husband-to-be. Frank Masi/Warner Bros. Pictures hide caption

itoggle caption Frank Masi/Warner Bros. Pictures
Zach Galifianakis, Ed Helms and Bradley Cooper in 'The Hangover'

Viva Las Vegas: After losing the groom — and all memory of the night before — Phil, Stu and Alan embark on an epic quest to reconstruct events and find the errant husband-to-be.

Frank Masi/Warner Bros. Pictures
Ed Helms and Bradley Cooper in 'The Hangover' i i

The Morning After: Stu and Phil find a clue in the car trunk. Frank Masi/Warner Bros. Pictures hide caption

itoggle caption Frank Masi/Warner Bros. Pictures
Ed Helms and Bradley Cooper in 'The Hangover'

The Morning After: Stu and Phil find a clue in the car trunk.

Frank Masi/Warner Bros. Pictures

The Hangover, Hollywood's most destructive stag-party trip to Las Vegas since 1998's Very Bad Things, works backward from a morning-after shambles that's amusingly surreal. But this bad-boy comedy runs out of laughs long before it's reconstructed the things its four protagonists shouldn't have done during the night they can't remember.

In two days, Doug (Justin Bartha) will marry Tracy (Sasha Barrese), who's rich, pretty and otherwise uncharacterized. The groom heads to Vegas with best pals Phil (Bradley Cooper), a mischievous schoolteacher, and Stu (Ed Helms), an uptight dentist.

Also included is Alan (Zach Galifianakis), a deeply troubled fat guy who's invited only because he's Tracy's brother — and because all contemporary gross-out comedies require a deeply troubled fat guy.

The timid member of this "wolf pack" is Stu, who's so terrified of his live-in girlfriend that he's told her the friends are going to Napa Valley. Stu's polar opposite is Alan, who crows, "I don't care if we kill somebody."

Since that's what happened in Very Bad Things, it's an easy bet that director Todd Phillips (Old School, Road Trip) will probably offer a different course of shock-comedy treatment.

After a time-lapse shot of the Vegas skyline dispenses with their fateful night within a few seconds, the guys awake in a Caesars Palace suite that's been seriously trashed. At large amid the devastation: a chicken, a baby and a tiger.

Also, Phil is wearing a hospital ID bracelet, Stu is missing a tooth, and all three guys have no recollection of the night before. Three? Oh yeah: Doug's missing.

The quest to find Doug, salvage his imminent wedding and figure out just what happened leads Phil, Stu and Alan to a hospital, a police station, a wedding chapel, the desert and a casino or two.

Along the way, the trio are beaten by Chinese gangsters, Tasered by playfully sadistic cops and threatened by Mike Tyson (who hasn't learned much about acting from playing himself in several James Toback films).

Just to show that there can be advantages to a Vegas meltdown, the guys also meet Jade (Heather Graham), a sweet-natured stripper and escort. Apparently, not all women are emasculating harpies — just the ones who aren't hookers.

Jammed with fragments of rock and pop songs, many of them used with ironic intent, The Hangover tries to simulate the sensation of being hopelessly confused and still a bit groggy. But the director doesn't demonstrate the visual imagination that might sell that notion; even at its trippiest, the movie remains a sitcom.

One major problem is that, fairly early in the men's investigation, a doctor reveals the chemical cause of their blacked-out behavior. This is central, so the story deflates when the disclosure makes no sense. Without spoiling the plot, let's just say that any amateur pharmacologist could have devised a more likely scenario.

The doc might just as well have turned to the camera and said simply, "Why did you morons lose your minds? Because otherwise we wouldn't have a movie!"

Maybe the makers of middle-aged-teenager comedies should agree on the existence of a new drug — call it doltosterone — that explains everything their characters do. Then viewers could just shrug, and say: "What happens in bad-boy movies, stays in bad-boy movies."

Correction June 15, 2009

We said that Zach Galifianakis had a show on MTV. The show was actually on VH1.

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