The city itself is a draw for drunken debauchery and many of the stereotypical Las Vegas attitudes and cultural keystones pervade the film. One of the friends marries a stripper named Jade, played by Heather Graham, who in fact is the mother of the baby the three friends find in their hotel suite near the beginning of the film. The film's attempt at complete plot extremes are realized in this plot twist, as well as when conservative, conscientious dentist Stu, as played by Ed Helms, awakes to find one of his incisors missing. Later in the film, the audience learns that Stu has removed his own tooth with a pair of pliers on a drunken bet. The base level irony and extreme nature of Stu's drunken behavior are also highlights of the film, and help make this comedy fun to watch and very unpredictable.
The group of friends has to leave their wives and girlfriends, many of whom are suspicious of their plans to go to Las Vegas together. Some of the friends have to lie about their true destination or intentions, and the idea that men are always looking to have a fun time and get away from their significant others while the women are suppressors of true male desires also permeates throughout the film. The men often have to endure painful phone calls from their wives or girlfriends in which they lie and make up excuses as to where they are or why they have not called. Although it is taken to a very severe extreme, this is something that on some level, all men and women can relate to. At the end of the film, Stu is faced with a dilemma of how to come clean with his wife about the trip, since much of the plot is centered on the irreversibility of much of the friends' actions. Stu makes the "right" decision and decides to break up with his controlling girlfriend. While not a comedic device, this portion of the plot plays into the male fear of being controlled, and helps to cement Stu's status as a man of his own destiny with the rest of his friends. It also plays a redeeming role for the character Stu, who is always the last person to understand the jokes or make sense of the situations the friends get themselves into.
The premise of the film, which hinges upon the unintentionality of the events that occurred the night of the friends' alcohol-induced blackout, also adds to the comedic flair of the film. At the end of the film the audience learns that Alan, played by Zach Galifianakis, had slipped drugs into the friends' after dinner drinks which caused them to blackout and not remember the events of the previous night. By the time this information is presented in the film, the audience has already gone full circle through Las Vegas with the group of friends, and is looking for a more likely explanation to the four's inability to remember anything about the previous night.
Culturally the film's comedy status is held in high regard by American audiences. Much of the comedic value of the film is found in the extreme situations the friends have to find a way out of, while simultaneously trying to piece together their actions the night before in order to trace back their steps to locate their lost friend Doug, played by Justin Bartha. The cultural icons of excess and the romantic male idea of being able to let go of an emasculating relationship make "The Hang Over" a comedy that most American males can identify with.
Given the economic environment and the fact that at the time of the film's release, most Americans were eager to go to the theater to see a comedy to get their minds off of matters financial, the film "The Hang Over" was a great economic and cultural success. The comedic aspects of the film are undeniable, and it pulls jokes and laughs from all corners of the comedy world. The film takes cultural norms and experiences and turns them into extreme situations of survival and social interaction. In this way, the film "The Hang Over" is an extremely successful film about four men who go to Las Vegas for one last weekend of…