PictureThe Hangover comes to Blu-ray with a decent enough video presentation that it probably better than you would expect from this kind of medium-budget comedy affair. Detail is pretty superb throughout, whether on the facial close-ups, the longer shots (the sunglasses reflection of the desert dust from the car - a nod to Casino - comes across beautifully) looking superb, and the Las Vegas setting - in particular the villa apartment and the casino tables - really allows the solid presentation to shine. There is negligible grain, no intrusive softness and no digital defects whatsoever. The colour scheme is blessed by the sun-drenched locale, the desert sequences having almost a Western-styled edge, with the Vegas neon nights counterpointing the dusty outback during the day. Vegas has seldom looked this good. This isn't a perfect video rendition by any means: it does not have enough 3D pop to compete with blockbuster presentations, nor does it really have the material which would allow it to push the limits of the format - or work as a title that you can show off your equipment with. But still, with all things considered, this is probably much better than fans would expect and remains a solid, decent Blu-ray entry in terms of visuals.
SoundOn the aural front things are not quite as noteworthy, although they are far from bad with this Dolby TrueHD rendition. Dialogue comes across clearly and coherently throughout, although it's the crazy stuff that the group gets up to that really lights up your living room, often tempting you to reach for that remote. Whether it be the car smashes, the tazer-shots, the growling tiger or the wailing baby, there is plenty of aural material on offer here despite the fact that this is still just a comedy affair. On the negative side, directionality is a little limited, with much of the action coming at you front and centre. The score - including some great song tracks and another rockingly hilarious performance from the same band you may remember from Old School and Starsky and Hutch) is quite a boisterous affair, but again feels front-dominated, although it does add a little bass to the proceedings. Overall it is an engaging but unexceptional offering.
ExtrasIn a pleasantly surprising move for a comedy release on Blu-ray we get a Picture-in-Picture Video Commentary track that features not only the Director Todd Phillips, but also the three main stars, Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms and Zach Galifianakis. Although the trio try their best to keep the proceedings funny and engaging, with their behind-the-scenes anecdotes and self-depreciation, the Director's more technical stance often brings things back down to earth with a thud, unfortunately, and this seems something of a missed opportunity. Still fans will probably sit through it in bits to gain the little gems that they may find.
The 8 minutes Gag Reel is not quite as engaging as it should have been, just the standard offering of line fluffs and spontaneous laughter. The Madness of Ken Jeong is far better, giving us 8 minutes of non-stop extended sequences and alternate versions of the scenes featuring this hilarious little man, who must have been improvising the hell out of some of these scenes. Well worth checking out.
Map of Destruction is a bit of a gimmick extra, allowing you to follow the path of destruction taking by the group. Those slightly more familiar with Vegas will probably find this marginally more interesting. More Pictures from the Missing Camera does what it says on the tin, giving us a lot more photos from the crazy exploits that we never really got to see. Worth running through once.
Most of the rest of the extra features are far too brief. Action Mash-Up is a ludicrously short minute-long offering that just provides a montage of some of the more action-packed moments. Three Best Friends Song provides us with the full, minute-long version of this Zach Galifianakis-sung tragically funny track. The Dan Band has an extra track from the aforementioned band from Old School and Starsky & Hutch, giving us a longer version of their hilarious take on Fame.
VerdictThe Hangover is a breath of fresh air in a year of lacklustre and disappointing comedies, brash but vapid blockbusters and solid reworkings. It gives fans what they may have felt was lacking in the unexpectedly cold Seth Rogen/Judd Apatow entry Funny People, and guys in particular will probably associate with the whole road-trip-to-Vegas-for-a-stag-do recipe for disaster. The fairly unknown cast bring us some new characters to love/hate and the surprises and gags in store with this trio are particularly engaging on first viewing. On US Region Free Blu-ray the movie comes with surprisingly good video and decent if unexceptional audio, together with a bunch of solid if insubstantial extras. Fans will seriously be tempted to add this to their collection and it would be highly recommended for newcomers to at least rent this gem. I'm sure it may not be to everybody's tastes, but it's your best shot at a good laugh this year.
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