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.
To celebrate his upcoming marriage to Tracy Garner, Doug Billings travels to Las Vegas with his best friends Phil Wenneck, Stuart "Stu" Price, and Tracy's brother Alan, in Doug's future father-in-law Sid's vintage Mercedes-Benz W111. They spend the night at Caesars Palace, where they relax in their hotel suite 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 suite is in a state of complete disarray, a tiger is in their bathroom, a chicken is in their living room, and a baby is in the closet, whom Alan names "Carlos". They see Doug's mattress impaled on a statue outside of Caesars Palace 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 abusive, domineering 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 suite, 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-Benz. However, the tiger awakens midway 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 a 2009 Cadillac Escalade. The passengers are revealed to be the gangsters from the chapel, and their boss Chow. 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.
The next morning, they meet with Chow in the desert and exchange the money, only to find that "Doug" is the black drug dealer who accidentally sold Alan Rohypnol. 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 badly sunburned Doug on the roof. Stu, Phil, and Alan had moved him there on his mattress the night before as a practical joke, but forgot where they left him. Doug had thrown his own mattress onto the statue, 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 quickly drive 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 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. All of them, save for Alan, are traumatized by what they see.Bradley Cooper as Philip "Phil" Wenneck, a teacher and the leader of the Wolfpack
Ed Helms as Dr. Stuart "Stu" Price, a dental doctor
Zach Galifianakis as Alan Garner, Doug's socially inept, future brother-in-law, who suffers from ADHD and acts childish
Heather Graham as Jade, a stripper and escort
Justin Bartha as Douglas "Doug" Billings, the groom, who goes missing for most of the film
Jeffrey Tambor as Sidney "Sid" Garner, Tracy's and Alan's father
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: Mike Epps as "Black Doug", a drug dealer who is mistaken for Doug; Ken Jeong as Leslie Chow, a flamboyant Chinese gangster; Rachael Harris as Melissa, Stu's bossy, cheating girlfriend; Bryan Callen as Eddie, the wedding organizer; Rob Riggle and Cleo King as Officers Franklin and Garden, respectively; Gillian Vigman as Stephanie Wenneck, Phil's wife; Ian Anthony Dale and Michael Lee portray Chow's henchmen. 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 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. Tyson later said that working on the film convinced him to change his lifestyle. Mike Vallely portrays Neeco, the high speed tuxedo delivery man. Las Vegas personalities Wayne Newton and Carrot Top appear as themselves in the photo slide show.
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".
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. 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.
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."
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.
On a budget of $35 million, principal photography took place in Nevada for fifteen days.
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.
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. 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.
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.
Phillips tried to convince the actors to allow him to use a real Taser until Warner Bros. lawyers intervened.
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."
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.
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.
"Right Round" by Flo Rida is played over the ending credits. The film uses the Kanye West song "Can't Tell Me Nothing" for which Zach Galifianakis made an alternative music video.Additional songs
"Who Let the Dogs Out?" – Baha Men
"Right Round" – Flo Rida ft. Ke$ha
"Can't Tell Me Nothing" – Kanye West
"Live Your Life" – T.I. featuring Rihanna
"What Do You Say?" – Mickey Avalon
"Yeah!" – Usher featuring Ludacris and Lil Jon
"Joker & the Thief" – Wolfmother
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 U.S. 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. 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. 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.
On its first day of release in the U.S., 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. 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. 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. 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.
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. The unrated version is on disc one and the theatrical version, digital copy, and the different features are on disc two. 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.
On Rotten Tomatoes the film has an approval rating of 79% based on 228 reviews with an average rating of 6.8/10. The site's critical consensus reads, "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." On Metacritic, the film has a score of 73 out of 100 based on 31 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews". Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "A" on an A+ to F scale.
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. 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". 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 ". 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". 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.
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." In his review in the Baltimore Sun, Michael Sragow called the film a "foul mesh of cheap cleverness and vulgarity" Joe Neumaier of the Daily News gave the film 2 1⁄2 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." 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.
Critics noted the weak character development, especially in its female characters. Critics also focused on misogyny and stereotyping, in particular the Asian gangster. Ebert, despite his praise, stated, "I won't go so far as to describe it as a character study" but that the film is more than the sum of its parts – parts that may at first seem a little generic or clichéd, 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? Both films are about "a couple guys waking up after a night of getting trashed, only to find they are missing something important", 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".
On January 17, 2010, The Hangover won the Golden Globe Award for Best Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy. It was also named one of the top ten films of the year by the American Film Institute. The film won "Best Ensemble" from the Detroit Film Critics Society. The screenplay was nominated for a Writers Guild of America and BAFTA awards.
By depicting and celebrating Las Vegas as the "ultimate guys' getaway", The Hangover had a major impact on Caesars Palace and Las Vegas. It was reported in 2013 that as of that year, guests were still continuing 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?" 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.
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.
Filming of The Hangover Part III began in September 2012 and was released on May 23, 2013.