Friday, 10 July 2009
A bunch of mates go to Las Vegas for a bucks night, only to wake up the next morning with no memory of the night before and one of their party missing. Yep, it's Dude, Where's My Car, only with a guy in place of the car. That's actually a little unfair: with this kind of comedy it doesn't really matter what the actual plot is so long as you have some funny performers and some decent scenes for them to go nuts in. Which this does, though maybe not as many as it thinks it has. Guy-centric comedy might be the cool thing right now, but this film - from Old School director Todd Phillips - is actually pretty old-fashioned, despite the occasional currently-cool crude line or bewildering Mike Tyson cameo. And it's this slightly retro feel that makes this occasionally less impressive than you might expect: one of the reasons why a lot of the current film comedies work is a feeling that the guys involved are pushing boundaries and trying something a little new. It may not be strictly true, but it gives an energy to the performances and the script that The Hangover lacks. Again, to stress: this is still a mostly pretty funny film. Zach Galifianakis especially is constantly hysterical as the space case, with Ed Helms (from the US version of The Office) as the angry nerd Stu and Bradley Cooper as the once-cool guy turned frustrated family man not far behind. Any scene with kids and a taser is always going to be a laugh, likewise physical comedy involving smacking a baby's head with a car door. But when an Asian gambler character turns up with an amazingly camp accent, you'd be forgiven for wondering if it was 2009 or 1979, and not in a good way either. Which is the one flaw that stops this from being as flat-out funny as it so often comes close to being: the occasional sense that, rather than being a film where everyone involved is having a lot of fun being silly, they're just ticking boxes on a sheet labelled "Formula for Comedy Success".
Anthony Morris (this review appeared in Forte #455)