Taking a page from such cinematic masterpieces as Keanu Reeves’ The Night Before and Seann William Scott’s Dude, Where’s My Car?, Todd Phillips’ The Hangover perfected the subgenre of comedies about people trying to piece together what they did during last night’s bender. When bachelor party celebrants Phil (Bradley Cooper), Stu (Ed Helms), and Alan (Zach Galifianakis) wake up in a Vegas hotel suite, they’ve lost their memories, the groom, and one of Stu’s teeth, but they’ve gained a baby and a tiger.
There’s nothing terribly lupine about this self-styled “Wolf Pack,” who don’t even like each other much, but they do muster a surprising ability to sniff out clues to what happened during the previous night’s drunken debauchery. They have little in common besides desperation and foggy memories, but they do develop a chemistry, with straight-man Phil, panicky Stu, and feral man-child Alan balancing each other well. It’s no wonder they reunited for two sequels, though the diminishing returns they yielded are further proof that what happened in Vegas should have just stayed in Vegas.