The Hangover

This article is about the film. For other uses, see Hangover (disambiguation).
The Hangover

Three men and a baby wearing sunglasses.

Theatrical release poster
Directed by Todd Phillips
Produced by
Written by
Music by Christophe Beck
Cinematography Lawrence Sher
Edited by Debra Neil-Fisher
Distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures
Release dates
  • May 30, 2009 (2009-05-30) (The Hague)
  • June 5, 2009 (2009-06-05) (United States)
Running time
99 minutes[1]
Country United States
Language English
Budget $35 million[2]
Box office $467.5 million[3]

The Hangover is a 2009 American comedy film directed by Todd Phillips, co-produced with Daniel Goldberg, and written by Jon Lucas and Scott Moore. The film stars Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms, Zach Galifianakis, Heather Graham, Justin Bartha, and Jeffrey Tambor. It tells the story of Phil Wenneck, Stu Price, Alan Garner, and Doug Billings, who travel to Las Vegas for a bachelor party to celebrate Doug's impending marriage. However, Phil, Stu and Alan wake up with Doug missing and no memory of the previous night's events, and must find the groom before the wedding can take place.

Lucas and Moore wrote the script after executive producer Chris Bender's friend disappeared and had a large bill after being sent to a strip club. After Lucas and Moore sold it to the studio for $2 million, Philips and Jeremy Garelick rewrote the script to include a tiger as well as a subplot involving a baby and a police cruiser, and also including boxer Mike Tyson. Filming took place in Nevada for 15 days, and during filming, the three main actors (Cooper, Helms, and Galifianakis) formed a real friendship.

The Hangover was released on June 5, 2009, and was a critical and commercial success. The film became the tenth-highest-grossing film of 2009, with a worldwide gross of over $467 million. The film won the Golden Globe Award for Best Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy, and received multiple other accolades. It is the tenth-highest-grossing worldwide film of 2009, as well as the second highest-grossing R-rated comedy ever in the United States, surpassing a record previously held by Beverly Hills Cop for almost 25 years.[4] Out of all R-rated films, it is the six-highest-grossing ever in the U.S., behind only The Passion of the Christ, The Matrix Reloaded, Ted, American Sniper, and Deadpool.

A sequel, The Hangover Part II, was released on May 26, 2011, and a third and final installment, The Hangover Part III, was released on May 23, 2013. Both sequels were box office hits, but were met with more negative reception from critics.


To celebrate his upcoming marriage to Tracy Garner, Doug Billings travels to Las Vegas with his best friends Phil Wenneck and Stu Price, and Tracy's brother Alan, in Doug's future father-in-law's vintage Mercedes-Benz. They spend the night at Caesars Palace, where they relax in the room before celebrating with a few drinks on the hotel rooftop. The next morning, Phil, Stu, and Alan awaken to find they have no memory of the previous night, and Doug is nowhere to be found. Stu's tooth is in Alan's pocket, their hotel suite is in a state of complete disarray, a tiger is in their bathroom, a chicken in their living room, and a baby is in the closet, whom they name "Carlos". They find Doug's mattress impaled on a statue outside of their hotel and when they ask for their Mercedes, the valet delivers an LVPD police cruiser.

Using clues to retrace their steps, the trio travel to a hospital where they discover they were drugged with Rohypnol ("roofies"), causing their memory loss, and that they came to the hospital from a chapel. At the chapel, they learn that Stu married a stripper named Jade, despite being in a long-term relationship with his dominating girlfriend Melissa. Outside the chapel, the trio is attacked by gangsters saying they are looking for someone. They flee and visit Jade, discovering that she is the mother of the baby, whose real name is Tyler. They are then arrested by the police for stealing the police cruiser. After being told that the Mercedes has been impounded, the trio is released when they unknowingly volunteer to be targets for a taser demonstration. While driving the Mercedes, they discover a naked Chinese man named Leslie Chow in the trunk. Chow jumps out of the trunk, beats the trio up with a crowbar and flees. Alan confesses that he drugged their drinks to ensure they had a good night, believing the drug to be ecstasy.

Returning to their villa, they find the boxer Mike Tyson, who orders the trio to return the tiger to his mansion immediately. Stu drugs the tiger with the remaining Rohypnol, and they drive towards Tyson's home in the Mercedes. However, the tiger awakens and attacks them, clawing Phil on the neck and damaging the car's interior. After pushing the car the rest of the way to the mansion, Tyson shows the trio footage of them at his house to help them locate Doug. While driving, their car is intentionally t-boned by another vehicle. The passengers are revealed to be the gangsters from the chapel, and their boss Chow (the naked man from the trunk). Chow accuses the trio of kidnapping him and stealing $80,000 that was in his purse. As the trio denies this, Chow tells them he has Doug, and threatens to kill him if his money is not returned. Unable to find Chow's $80,000, Alan, with help from Stu and Jade, uses his knowledge of card counting to win $82,400 playing Blackjack.

They meet with Chow and exchange the money, only to find that "Doug" is the black drug dealer, who accidentally sold Alan the Roofies. With the wedding set to occur in 5 hours, Phil calls Tracy and tells her that they cannot find Doug. When "Black Doug" mentions that, "If you take Roofies, you're more likely to end up on the floor than on the roof," Stu realizes where Doug is. The trio travels back to their hotel where they find a delirious and badly sunburned Doug on the roof. Stu, Phil, and Alan moved him there on his mattress the night before as a practical joke, but forgot where they left him. Doug's mattress had been thrown onto the statue by Doug, in an attempt to signal help. Before leaving, Stu makes arrangements to go on a date with Jade the following week. With less than four hours before the wedding and with no flights to L.A. available, the four race home. Along the way, Doug reveals he has possession of Chow's original $80,000. Despite their late arrival, Doug and Tracy are married, the former learns the damaged Mercedes was a wedding gift, and Stu angrily breaks up with Melissa, having grown tired of her controlling attitude. As the reception ends, Alan finds Stu's digital camera containing photos of the events they cannot remember, and the four agree to look at the pictures together before deleting the evidence of their exploits.


The rest of the Garners are portrayed by Sondra Currie as Linda, Tracy's and Alan's mother; and Sasha Barrese as Tracy, Doug's bride and Alan's sister.

The cast also includes: Ken Jeong as Leslie Chow, a flamboyant Chinese gangster; Mike Epps as "Black Doug", a drug dealer who is mistaken for Doug; Rachael Harris as Melissa, Stu's bossy, cheating girlfriend; and Gillian Vigman as Stephanie Wenneck, Phil's wife. Officers Franklin and Garden are portrayed by Rob Riggle and Cleo King, respectively. Ian Anthony Dale and Michael Lee portray Chow's henchmen. Mike Tyson appears as himself; Tyson originally refused to appear in the film, but he changed his mind when he found out that Todd Phillips directed Old School, which Tyson liked.[5] Tyson later said that working on the film convinced him to change his lifestyle.[6] Matt Walsh portrays Dr. Valsh and Dan Finnerty plays a wedding singer at Doug and Tracy's wedding Todd Phillips, the film's director, appears as Mr. Creepy, who appears briefly in an elevator. Mike Vallely portrays Neeco, the high speed tuxedo delivery man.[7] Las Vegas personalities Wayne Newton and Carrot Top appear as themselves in the photo slide show.[8]


"I think part of what's special about this movie is that none of the comedy comes from the characters being clever, like you see in a lot of sitcoms or movies, where the characters actually have a funny sense of humor. That's not the case in this movie. So as an actor, you can really play the intensity and gravity and seriousness of the moment, and just rely on the circumstances being funny. The joke is kind of the situation you're in, or the way you're reacting to something, as opposed to the characters just saying something witty."

—Ed Helms[9]


The plot of The Hangover was inspired by a real event that happened to Tripp Vinson, a producer and friend of executive producer Chris Bender. Vinson had gone missing from his own Las Vegas bachelor party, blacking out and waking up "in a strip club being threatened with a very, very large bill [he] was supposed to pay".[10]

Jon Lucas and Scott Moore sold the original script of The Hangover to Warner Bros. for over $2 million. The story was about three friends who lose the groom at his Las Vegas bachelor party and then must retrace their steps to figure out what happened.[11] It was then rewritten by Jeremy Garelick and director Todd Phillips, who added additional elements such as Mike Tyson and his tiger, the baby, and the police cruiser. The Writers Guild of America, West disallowed their work to be credited due to the rules of its screenwriting credit system.[10][12][13]


Ed Helms, Zach Galifianakis, and Bradley Cooper were all casual acquaintances before The Hangover was filmed, which Helms said he believed helped in establishing a rapport and chemistry amongst their characters. Helms credited Phillips for "bringing together three guys who are really different, but really appreciate each others' humor and sensibilities". Helms also said the fact that the story of the three characters growing closer and bonding informed the friendship between the three actors: "As you spend 14 hours a day together for three months, you see a lot of sides of somebody. We went through the wringer together, and that shared experience really made us genuine buddies."[9]

Sarah Michelle Gellar was Todd Phillips first choice for the role of Jade, but she turned it down.

Lindsay Lohan was offered the role of Jade in the film. However, she turned it down, saying that the script "had no potential". She later regretted making that decision.[14]


On a budget of $35 million,[2] principal photography took place in Nevada for fifteen days.[15]

The Hangover was mostly filmed on location at Caesars Palace, including the front desk, lobby, entrance drive, pools, corridors, elevators, and roof, but the suite damaged in the film was built on a soundstage.[16]

Helms said filming The Hangover was more physically demanding than any other role he had done, and that he lost eight pounds while making the film. He said the most difficult day of shooting was the scene when Mr. Chow rams his car and attacks the main characters, which Helms said required many takes and was very painful, such as when a few of the punches and kicks accidentally landed and when his knees and shins were hurt while being pulled out of a window.[9] The missing tooth was not created with prosthetics or visual effects, but is naturally occurring: Helms never had an adult incisor grow, and got a dental implant as a teenager, which was removed for filming.[17]

Jeong stated that his jumping on Cooper's neck naked wasn't a part of the script, but rather improvisation on their part. It was added with Phillips' blessing. Jeong also stated that he had to receive his wife's permission to appear nude in the film.[18]

Phillips tried to convince the actors to allow him to use a real Taser until Warner Bros. lawyers intervened.[19]

Regarding the explicit shots in the final photo slide show in which his character is seen receiving fellatio in an elevator, Galifianakis confirmed that a prosthesis was used for the scene, and that he had been more embarrassed than anyone else during the creation of the shot. "You would think that I wouldn't be the one who was embarrassed; I was extremely embarrassed. I really didn't even want it in there. I offered Todd's assistant a lot of money to convince him to take it out of the movie. I did. But it made it in there."[20]

The scenes involving animals were filmed mostly with trained animals. Trainers and safety equipment were digitally removed from the final version. Some prop animals were used, such as when the tiger was hidden under a sheet and being moved on a baggage cart. Such efforts were given an "Outstanding" rating by the American Humane Association for the monitoring and treatment of the animals.[21]


The Hangover: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack
Soundtrack album by Various Artists
Released June 9, 2009
Genre Soundtrack
Length 38:52
Label WaterTower Music
Producer Christophe Beck

The film's score was composed by Christophe Beck. The film featured 20 songs, consisting of music by Kanye West, Dyslexic Speedreaders, Danzig, The Donnas, Usher, Phil Collins, The Belle Stars, T.I., Wolfmother and The Dan Band, who tend to feature in Phillips' films as the inappropriate, bad-mouthed wedding band. The Dan Band also has a version of the 50 Cent hit single "Candy Shop". Pro-skater and punk musician Mike Vallely was invited with his band, Revolution Mother, to write a song for the film and also makes a cameo appearance as the high speed tuxedo delivery guy.[7]

"Right Round" by Flo Rida is played over the ending credits.[22][23] The film uses the Kanye West song "Can't Tell Me Nothing" for which Zach Galifianakis made an alternative music video.

Track listing

No. TitleArtist(s) Length
1. "It's Now or Never"  El Vez 5:17
2. "Thirteen"  Danzig 4:15
3. "Take It Off"  The Donnas 2:58
4. "Fever"  The Cramps 4:16
5. "Wedding Bells"  Gene Vincent and His Blue Caps 2:31
6. "In the Air Tonight"  Phil Collins 5:30
7. "Stu's Song"  Ed Helms 0:56
8. "Rhythm and Booze"  Treat Her Right 2:49
9. "Iko Iko"  The Belle Stars 2:50
10. "Three Best Friends"  Zach Galifianakis 0:29
11. "Ride the Sky II"  Revolution Mother 2:03
12. "Candy Shop"  Dan Finnerty and The Dan Band 2:58
Total length:
Additional songs


Box office

The Hangover was a financial success. As of December 17, 2009, it had grossed $467,416,722, of which $277,322,503 was in Canada and the United States. It was tenth-highest-grossing film of 2009 in the world, the ninth-highest-grossing film of 2009 in the US and the highest-grossing R-rated comedy ever in the United States, surpassing a record previously held by Beverly Hills Cop for almost 25 years.[3][24] Out of all R-rated films, it is the fifth-highest-grossing ever in the U.S., behind only The Passion of the Christ, The Matrix Reloaded, American Sniper and Deadpool.[25] However, adjusted for inflation The Hangover earned less than half the total earned by Beverly Hills Cop and is out grossed by several comedies including Porky's.[26][27]

On its first day of release in the US, the film drew $16,734,033 on approximately 4,500 screens at 3,269 sites, and exceeded the big budgeted Land of the Lost – the other major new release of the weekend – for first day's box office takings.[28] Although initial studio projections had the Disney·Pixar film Up holding on to the number one slot for a second consecutive weekend, final revised figures, bolstered by a surprisingly strong Sunday showing, ultimately had The Hangover finishing first for the weekend, with $44,979,319 from 3,269 theaters, averaging $13,759 per venue, narrowly edging out Up for the top spot, and more than twice that of Land of the Lost, which finished third with $18.8 million.[29] The film exceeded Warner Bros.' expectations – which had anticipated it would finish third behind Up and Land of the Lost – benefiting from positive word-of-mouth and critical praise, and a generally negative buzz for Land of the Lost.[29][30] It stayed at the number one position in its second weekend, grossing another $32,794,387, from 3,355 theaters for an average of $9,775 per venue, and bringing the 10-day amount to $104,768,489.

Home media

The Hangover was released on DVD, Blu-ray, and UMD on December 15, 2009. There is a single disc theatrical version featuring both full and wide screen option (DVD only), as well as a wide screen two-disc unrated version of the film, also containing the theatrical version (DVD, Blu-ray, and UMD). The unrated version is approximately seven minutes longer than the theatrical version.[31] The unrated version is on disc one and the theatrical version, digital copy, and the different features are on disc two.[32] The Hangover beat Inglourious Basterds and G-Force in first week DVD and Blu-ray sales, as well as rentals, selling more than 8.6 million units and making it the best selling comedy ever on DVD and Blu-ray, beating the previous record held by My Big Fat Greek Wedding.[33]


Critical response

The Hangover received generally positive reviews, with critics praising the film's comedic approach, although criticism was directed towards its excessive vulgarity. On Rotten Tomatoes, the film has a 79% "Certified Fresh" rating based on 227 reviews, with an average score of 6.8 out of 10, with the critical consensus reading, "With a clever script and hilarious interplay among the cast, The Hangover nails just the right tone of raunchy humor and the non-stop laughs overshadow any flaw."[34] On Metacritic, which uses a normalized rating system, the film earned a score of 73 out of 100 based on 31 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews".[35]

Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times gave it three and a half stars out of four and praised the film for its funniness and comedic approach.[36] A.O. Scott of The New York Times praised Cooper, Helms and Galifianakis for their performances in the film as well as Todd Phillips for its direction. Scott later went on to say that the film is "safe as milk".[37] Mick LaSalle of the San Francisco Chronicle also praised Phillips' direction. LaSalle also praised the film's comedic scenes and called it "the funniest movie so far this year [2009]".[38] Betsy Sharkey of the Los Angeles Times praised the film for its perverseness. Sharkey also said that the film is "filled with moments as softhearted as they are crude, as forgiving as unforgivable".[39] Although Joe Leydon of Variety criticized the film's trailers and TV-spots for its "beer-and-boobs, party-hearty farce", Leydon praised the film for its cleverness.[40]

Conversely, Richard Corliss of Time said that "virtually every joke [in the film] either is visible long before it arrives or extends way past its expiration date" and added, "Whatever the other critics say, this is a bromance so primitive it's practically Bro-Magnon."[41] In his review in the Baltimore Sun, Michael Sragow called the film a "foul mesh of cheap cleverness and vulgarity"[42] Joe Neumaier of the Daily News gave the film 2 12 out of 5 stars and noted, "Amusing as it is, it never feels real. That may not seem like a big deal—a lot of funny movies play by their own rules—except that The Hangover keeps doubling-down on the outlandishness."[43] Family-oriented reviewers have harangued the film, noting that Galifianakis said he tried to forbid his own mother from seeing it and that he yells at parents of kids who tell him they like the film.[44]

Critics noted the weak character development, especially in its female characters.[45] Critics also focused on misogyny[46] and stereotyping, in particular the Asian gangster.[41][47] Ebert, despite his praise, stated, "I won't go so far as to describe it as a character study"[36] but that the film is more than the sum of its parts – parts that may at first seem a little generic or clichéd,[48] since many other films (such as Very Bad Things) have already explored the idea of a weekend in Vegas gone wrong. The film's premise has several similarities to Dude, Where's My Car?[49] Both films are about "a couple guys waking up after a night of getting trashed, only to find they are missing something important",[50] whose adventures include "a trail of clues, a missing car, dubious encounters with strippers and wild animals, a brush with the law and gangs chasing them for something they don't realize they have".[51]


On January 17, 2010, The Hangover won the Golden Globe Award for Best Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy.[46] It was also named one of the top ten films of the year by the American Film Institute.[52] The film won "Best Ensemble" from the Detroit Film Critics Society.[53] The screenplay was nominated for a Writers Guild of America and BAFTA awards.

Award Category Recipient Result
American Cinema Editors Awards Best Edited Feature Film – Comedy or Musical Debra Neil-Fisher Won
American Film Institute Awards Top 10 Movies Won
Broadcast Film Critics Association Awards Best Comedy Film Won
British Academy Film Awards Best Original Screenplay Jon Lucas
Scott Moore
Detroit Film Critics Society Best Ensemble Won
Empire Awards Best Comedy Nominated
Golden Globe Awards Best Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy Won
Houston Film Critics Society Awards Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role Zach Galifianakis Nominated
MTV Movie Awards Best Movie Nominated
Best Breakthrough Performance Zach Galifianakis Nominated
Best Villain Ken Jeong Nominated
Best Comedic Performance Zach Galifianakis Won
Best Comedic Performance Bradley Cooper Nominated
Best WTF Moment Ken Jeong Won
People's Choice Awards Favorite Comedy Movie Nominated
Favorite Movie Nominated
Satellite Awards Best Actor – Motion Picture Musical or Comedy Bradley Cooper Nominated
Spike Guys' Choice Awards Guy Movie of the Year Won
St. Louis Gateway Film Critics Association Awards Best Comedy Won
Teen Choice Awards Choice Movie: Comedy Nominated
Choice Movie: Villain Ken Jeong Nominated
Writers Guild of America Awards Best Original Screenplay Nominated

Cultural and economic impact

By depicting and celebrating Las Vegas as the "ultimate guys' getaway", The Hangover had a major impact on Caesars Palace and Las Vegas.[54] It was reported in 2013 that as of that year, guests continue to quote to Caesars staff two lines from the film's check-in scene: "Did Caesar live here?" and "Do you know if the hotel is pager friendly?"[54] As a result of the film, Hangover-themed slot machines became popular at casinos throughout the Las Vegas Valley, the Caesars Palace gift shop sold tens of thousands of Hangover-related souvenirs, and the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority received numerous inquiries from persons interested in recreating some of the film's most wild scenes, such as those involving a tiger.[54]


Principal photography of The Hangover Part II began in October 2010, with Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms, Justin Bartha, Zach Galifianakis and Ken Jeong returning. The film was released on May 26, 2011.[55]

Filming of The Hangover Part III began in September 2012 and was released on May 23, 2013.[56]


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