Saturday, February 6, 2010
Todd Phillips (second from right) with Zach Galifianakis, Ed Helms, and Bradley Cooper
One film together: The Hangover (2009).
Book Two in Phillips’s continuing cinematic meditation on male regression, The Hangover offers a diegesis and mise en scène even more fraught with Oedipal snares and Odyssean detours than the auteur’s 2003 masterwork, Old School. Well, that, or it just has lots of funny scenes of guys getting coldcocked or Tasered in the groin. What sets The Hangover apart from your standard frat-boy laffer is that Phillips was shrewd enough to cast three terrific lead performers who, while well known to alt-comedy aficionados, don’t have the star wattage of Old School’s Luke Wilson, Will Ferrell, and Vince Vaughn. Cooper you may have seen as the jerk in Wedding Crashers; Helms you may remember from The Daily Show and The Office; Galifianakis you may have seen in those Web shorts where he wears a bouffant wig and stunt genitalia. Who knew that putting these three together, along with a baby, a tiger, a stolen police car, Mike Tyson, Heather Graham, and the cult Korean-American comic Ken Jeong, would result in the comedy of the year? Todd Phillips, that’s who.