Picks and Pans Review: The Hangover

updated 06/15/2009 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 06/15/2009 AT 01:00 AM EDT

Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms, Zach Galifianakis, Justin Bartha R |

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SUMMER'S SURPRISE HIT?

COMEDY
Ever wonder what McLovin'—Superbad's teen nerd gone wild—grew up to be? Probably somebody like Stu (Helms, of TV's The Office): an uptight dentist turned drunken stud who's one of two wonderfully wacky standout characters in The Hangover, a raunchy comic joyride of a movie. Stu's equal in earning laughs here is man-child Alan (Galifianakis), a bearded Baby Huey with a demonic gleam in his eye.

A slam dunk to be this summer's Wedding Crashers, Hangover follows this ill-matched duo—along with teacher Phil (Cooper) and groom-to-be Doug (Bartha)—when they head to Las Vegas from Los Angeles for a one-night bachelor bash. It turns into a drunken bacchanal during which the groom goes missing. Will Doug's hungover pals find him in time? And what are both a baby and a tiger doing in the quartet's hotel suite? Even if you're stark sober, this frantically propulsive comedy is slaphappy fun. That's in big part due to Helms and Galifianakis, who have dramatically opposing comedy styles. Helms sputters and spins like an overwound mechanical toy, while Galifianakis slides in a laugh line with impish stealth.

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