Hitting theaters this weekend, The Hangover follows four friends, Doug (Justin Bartha), Phil (Bradley Cooper), Stu (Ed Helms) and Alan (Zach Galifianakis) who travel to Vegas for one night of unforgettable bachelor party raucousness before Doug’s wedding. We’ve seen this kind of film on the screen before. It’s a classic set-up for a tale wrought with drunken indecency, unbelievable hi-jinx and secrets that will last the friends a lifetime. But in The Hangover there’s one big difference: the main characters can’t remember anything.
“It’s three guys having to solve this mystery together rather than a guys just being buddies movie,” star Bradley Cooper explained when I chatted with him recently. “It’s a dark sort of lurid [movie]. It’s the comedic version of ‘Saving Private Ryan.’ I like to call it ‘Bachelor Party’ meets ‘Memento.’”
And what a mystery it is. After a night that begins with a shot of Jaeger, the groom disappears from their room and is replaced by a strange baby, an angry tiger that’s taken up residence in their bathroom and an even angrier Mike Tyson who’s throwing punches in their living room.
At one point the characters are so battered and bruised you can’t help but wonder if you are watching a war movie.
“Yes I got the [expletive] kicked out of me,” Cooper said with a laugh. “Oh, yes. My character for some reason, if you look back, I get hit. I get that crowbar to the face, Dough jumps on me at the end of the movie, you know. Phil gets [expletive]ed up.
And Ed Helms’ missing tooth?
“Really gone,” Cooper swore, with a glimmer in his eye.
Directed by Todd Phillips, the man behind the GG Allin documentary Hated and, more recently, the wonderful celebration of juvenile behavior, Old School, The Hangover gives the audience an honest and, quite frankly, unattractive look at adult males.
Zach Galifianakis plays Alan, a social miscreant whose well-meaning attempts at bonding border on psychotic, while Ed Helms’ character Stu is spineless and emasculated, living in fear of his domineering girlfriend. Even Cooper’s character, the handsome and happily married schoolteacher Phil, has some serious issues to work out. But, although these guys, at times, are completely unsavory you find yourself liking them against your better judgment.
“I actually think that all three of us were written to be very complicated characters.” Cooper said. “They’re not stock. My guy, your introduction to him is that he’s taking money from kids to go to Vegas. But then you realize he’s actually a very good guy.”
The gross-out factor in The Hangover is extremely high. Cooper had to put up with a naked man (Ken Jeong, who you might remember as the doctor from Knocked Up) dressed only in socks jumping on his face and beating him about the head. He said they filmed that scene at least 40 times.
But, he doesn’t usually shy away from that kind of stuff, unless of it involves animals. When it came to hitting a chicken, he wasn’t so sure.
“The hardest thing was making sure that I didn’t hurt it. That was the only thing. Everything else I just thought, well Todd knows what’s best. Like the Bin Laden thing and Mike Tyson hitting Zach. Basically, everything that Zach had to do, I just sort of watched,” he laughed.
And that’s not even the half of it. We won’t give it away, but make sure you stay for the credits.
Cooper is poised to be Hollywood’s next great leading man. Coming off starring roles in He’s Just Not that Into You and Yes Man, Bradley is in the tabloids nearly every day. But, he is adamant about all the rumors being just that, rumors. That includes his much talked-about role as Green Lantern. Apparently, it was all a big misunderstanding at a press junket.
“I never read a script. Nothing yet,” Cooper said. The same goes for the “A-Team.”
But, that doesn’t mean he hasn’t thought about it. The actor is a “huge fan of the show” and Murdock is his favorite character. When asked who he would cast in the part, he said Chris Pine could do a phenomenal job playing him.
“He could ugly up,” Cooper joked.
As for the role the media has already cast him in, he said, “I think there would be a lot of good Faces. Face is an interesting role. Not my favorite role, though I am sure he’d be different in the movie. I’d like to see who would play Mr. T. Although someone told me that Common was going to play Mr. T.”
I also asked him if an Alias reunion might ever be in the works.
“I can’t imagine they’d ever make an ‘Alias’ movie. I can’t imagine J.J. (Abrams) wanting to go back there. It went as long as it could have gone,” Cooper said.
But, that doesn’t mean he wouldn’t want to work with J.J. again.
“I love J.J. Abrams so anything he would want to do, I would be very open to do.”
Maybe there’s some Star Trek in his future?
When pressed about his personal life, Cooper was extremely tight-lipped. He did say that he’s never experienced anything as intense as his on-screen shenanigans in The Hangover.
“Not even close. Never blacked out, unfortunately,” Bradley laughed. “It would be nice not to remember every single thing that I had done.”
Cheers to that, Mr. Cooper.
Sara Castillo is a Philadelphia-based editor and blogger for comcast.net and FEARnet whose mug sometimes winds up on video. She loves all things gory and can’t resist a good musical. “The Iron Giant” brings her to tears.
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