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06.10.09

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Phaedra

Hangover

A stays-in-Vegas comedy is laugh filled

By Richard von Busack


(R; 100 min.) A well-built, good-looking and satisfyingly low comedy with a sturdy silent-movie two-reeler plot and the wit to realize that the Three Stooges format is solid gold. A quartet of Southern California types heads to Vegas for a bachelor party. They're given backhanded approval from the father of the bride, Jeffrey Tambor: ("Whatever happens in Vegas stays in Vegas. Except for herpes.") Cut, eventually, to The Morning After: The Cramps' version of "Fever" on the soundtrack as a live chicken struts through the smoldering ruins of what once was a $4,200-a-night Caesar's Palace suite. The groom has vanished, and the three chumps, rendered amnesiac by booze, must search for him. They are: kitty-whipped, Larry-like Stu (Ed Helms), confident but wrongheaded Moe-style leader Phil (Bradley Cooper) and the "one-man wolf pack" Alan, played by the film's standout, Zach Galifianakis, Curlying beautifully. (After one typical moment of idiocy, he's introduced like so: "Don't let the beard fool you. He's a child.") What gradually materializes is an evening that included a stolen cop car, inappropriate touching of Mike Tyson's pet tiger and one member's marriage to a very nice stripper (Heather Graham, once again not getting enough screen time). Stick with it, since the first third is hit and miss; later, director Todd Phillips solidly builds the situations, thinking up strategies to bolster the risky comedy. Example: since no one wants to see a tiger injured, Phillips finesses the tranquilizing of the cat to a sweet piano lullaby titled "What Do Tigers Dream Of?" Sturdy support by Rob Riggle as a furious policeman, Bryan Callen as an east-of-the-Urals wedding chapel proprietor, Ken Jeong, delightful as a bizarre Chinese gangster, and Mike Tyson as a sucker-punching, ex-heavyweight champion named Mike Tyson, who has a soft spot for Phil Collins.


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