Ever since I first started wasting my life away by sitting in front of the television at the tender age of three, I’ve always been very partial to two specific — but entirely separate — genres: comedies and mysteries. Since the dawn of the Silver Screen itself, filmmakers from all walks of the industry have attempted to merge the comedy and mystery together, although with limited success. Usually, the end-result was just another B-Picture — one that really didn’t rely on its “mystery” element to go anywhere. Take several Bob Hope or Bowery Boys features, for example. While I have an undying admiration for both parties, I have to admit that most of their “comedy/mysteries” were nothing more than “average” screwball flicks laced with a certain amount of predictability when it came to the whole “mystery” part of it all.
Really, it’s not the easiest kind of picture to pull off. Sometimes, somebody gets it right — such as Stanley Donen did with his 1963 classic, Charade — while other filmmakers have had the misfortune of cranking out movies like 1985’s Clue…a film that sends shivers up my spine for all the wrong reasons. Honestly, up until 2009, I thought that the possibility of a successful and truly entertaining comedy/mystery was out of the question. And then I saw The Hangover, the first mainstream American film in over 25 years that successfully combines both the comedy and mystery genres in order to create a truly unique film. In fact, the mystery element in The Hangover is so well-crafted that a lot of its fans don’t even realize that it is a mystery!
The story pits three future groomsmen (Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms, and Zach Galifianakis) waking up one morning in Las Vegas after an evening of drunken debauchery, set to the tune of their groom-to-be’s bachelor party. Unfortunately, the entire night before is a great big blank for all three men. Worse still, the whereabouts of the groom-to-be (Justin Bartha) are unknown. With clues presented to the unwilling sleuths in the form of an abandoned baby, a tiger in the bathroom, a chicken in the living room, and a former stripper (Heather Graham, proving that there life does exist after Austin Powers), our trio of hapless halfwits embark on discovering what happened to the them and to their groom.