A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this hilarious but extremely raunchy comedy from the director of Old School is decidedly not for younger teens. Let's face it: The movie's whole premise involves drinking and being drugged. There's lots of comedic violence, sex, substance abuse, and over-the-top language. While you could stretch and suggest that there's a message about friendship and responsibility, that's like suggesting that Twinkies and soda contain some vitamin C. Still, this movie is turning out to be the teen buzz movie of the summer of 2009. Parents also need to know that this review is for the rated version of this film.
What's the story?
With their friend Doug (Justin Bartha) on the verge of getting married, friends Phil (Bradley Cooper), Alan (Zack Galifinakis), and Stu (Ed Helms) take him to Las Vegas for a bachelor party blow-out. Waking the next morning, the three have hazy memories at best and a trashed hotel suite ... and there's no sign of Doug, who's due to tie the knot in two days. Phil, Alan, and Stu have to reconstruct their evening and find thier friend: What did they do? Where did they go? And why is there a tiger in their hotel suite?
Is it any good?
Even with all the concerns about the content in THE HANGOVER, you'd have to be pretty hard-hearted not to admire the flair, flash, and funk that director Todd Phillips brings to the film. As a kind of boozed-soaked detective story, it's remarkably engaging, and the trio of leads each bring something to the proceedings -- Cooper's ratty charm, Helms' stoic uptightness, and Galifinakis' outer-space musings work remarkably well together. There are some nice supporting parts, too (including Rob Riggle as a crazed cop and Heather Graham as an "escort" with a heart of gold), and the film's tempo never flags or falters.
The Hangover is exactly the kind of summertime film that grown-ups will enjoy before, or after, a few adult beverages, bringing back plenty of stories about their own flaming youth or misadventures; the film's too slick and speedy to meditate too much on what the characters learn from their experiences, and if the ending's happiness seems a little forced, think of that brief good feeling as a sparkling champagne chaser to the film's stiff-liquor comedic sensibility. Manic, panicked, and giddily crazed, The Hangover is, like the debauchery it depicts, so much fun that it hurts.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the ritual of the bachelor party -- is it a chance for real bonding or simple immature excess?
Families can also discuss the image of Las Vegas as a playground forgrown-ups; how much of that is innocent fun, and how much of it issimply seedy marketing language?
Finally, families can talk about the film's excessive depiction of violence, sex, and substance abuse -- is the film condoning or glorifying this kind of behavior?
- In theaters: June 5, 2009
- On DVD or streaming: December 15, 2009
- Cast: Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms, Zach Galifianakis
- Director: Todd Phillips
- Studio: Warner Bros.
- Genre: Comedy
- Run time: 100 minutes
- MPAA rating: R
- MPAA explanation: pervasive language, sexual content including nudity, and some drug material
For kids who love comedies
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.