The Hangover (DVD)

As I've said before, it's been a pretty dull few years on the quality comedy front. But, thankfully, that's all changed this year – 2009 kicked off with two hilarious Hollywood romps, Role Models and Sex Drive, and then kicked it up a notch with the brilliant British polical comedy In The Loop. Now we have what's probably the funniest comedy to come out of Hollywood in close to a decade, The Hangover – and with nary a big name in sight.

The plot follows a well trodden path – a bunch of guys head to Las Vegas for a bucks' weekend – but it brings a surprising freshness, and plenty of twists. Doug (Bartha) is about to marry Tracy (Barresse). So, for his last weekend of freedom, he and three buddies – Phil (Cooper), Stu (Helms) and Alan (Galifianakis) – take a road trip to Vegas for a night of debauchery. Unfortunately, when they wake up the next morning, Doug is missing, the hotel suite has been trashed, there's a tiger in the bathroom and a baby in the closet. And none of them has any recollection of the night before.

That's really all you need to know before you see The Hangover. Just sit back and let it all unfold, and enjoy the constant stream of laughs that comes your way. It's a brilliantly sharp script from Lucas and Moore, neither of whom has really written anything of note until now – just a few ordinary romantic comedies. Director Phillips has a slightly sharper pedigree, with a CV that includes Road Trip, Starsky & Hutch and Old School. All three of them can now pretty much name their own price. So too can the largely unknown cast – Bartha, Cooper and Helms turn in excellent performances, but the chunky, bearded Galifianakis comes close to stealing the film.

The simplest way to describe The Hangover is as an adult version of Dude, Where's My Car. But this time, actually funny. With real jokes. And proper actors.

EXTRAS * So, here we have what is without doubt the funniest live-action film of the year (Pixar's Up takes the animated gong). But what the fuck is up wth this awful selection of "bonus material"? There's a Map of Destruction, which shows where the events of the film took place; the Three Best Friends song, which seems to be a scene cut from the film; and a seven-minute gag reel. And that's it. Yes, one of the best films of the year is one of the year's WORST DVD releases. So here's what you do ... do NOT buy this DVD. Instead, get the Blu-ray, which has a shitload more extras on it. But don't buy it now. Oh no, wait 6-8 months, until it's on sale at Amazon.com, or Play.com, for £5 or so, and buy it then. Because that's what I'm going to do.

Stuart O'Connor is the Managing Editor of Screenjabber, the movie review website he co-founded with Neil Davey far too many years ago. He likes all genres, as long as the film is good (although he does enjoy the occasional bad "guilty pleasure"), and drinks way too much coffee.

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