The Hangover You Won’t Soon Forget

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With over $275 million dollars in domestic grosses, The Hangover has now surpassed Wedding Crashers as the #1 R-rated comedy of all time. Vince Vaughn and director David Dobkin each sent “Hangover” director Todd Phillips a bottle of champagne to congratulate him on this distinctive honor.

“It is surreal,” Phillips told ComingSoon.net at Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas. Warner Home Video is set to release last summer’s smash hit on Blu-ray Disc as well as a Single-Disc Cut and 2-Disc Special Edition DVD on December 15. “The Hangover: Unrated Cut” promises more content and even more photos from the lost camera to help you piece together the events from that infamous night.

Actor Rob Riggle, who plays taser-happy Officer Franklin, thought the film was funny while doing it but could not have predicted its success. He credits this to Phillips’ casting of Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms and Zach Galifianakis. “I think that’s why it worked. Their performances, their comedic genius and talents. It all just kind of came together.”

Phillips agrees: “Movies in general, comedies especially, are so much about casting. I take that part of it the most seriously because comedy’s about chemistry and chemistry comes from casting. So, it all really stems from casting. That’s the part I really spend the most time on.”

Actress Rachael Harris’ portrayal of caustic, abrasive Melissa is an example of just one of Phillips’ many brilliant casting decisions for this film. “It really was carefully crafted,” says Harris. “They really worked on making all these characters very specific. I’m this castrating b*tch. Heather is the sweet-as-pie prostitute. Ed is a complete pushover. Phil got married and got trapped. Wants to get out, wants to see something outside of his marriage. Then you’ve got Zach, who is a complete wing nut and represents the little boy or little girl in all of us. I think that because these characters are so specific is why it works.”

Phillips showed up in Vegas fresh from wrapping his latest project Due Date, which stars Robert Downey Jr. and Zach Galifianakis. “Zach’s second movie and he’s starring with Robert Downey Jr. We’re all in awe of Zach… he’s totally different (in ‘Due Date’) than he is in ‘The Hangover.'”

His next task is to cut the 125 minutes of Due Date down to a respectable 100. “I always subscribe to: it should be 100 minutes. So, that’s always around where it lands. I love editing. Editing you have to be ruthless on yourself. Sometimes you look at a scene, it took three days to shoot, it costs so much money, it was all these things. You have to forget all that when you’re editing. This slows the movie down… bye. Or this isn’t working… bye. It’s time to get ruthless when you’re editing. I love that part actually.”

This love of editing is one reason Phillips is excited that The Hangover will be released on Blu-ray Disc in addition to the Single-Disc and 2-Disc Special Edition DVD. “As a filmmaker, it’s amazing. The color balance, the color transfer. It’s really subtle. That’s exactly how we saw the film while we were editing on a perfect HD screen, perfect resolution. That’s really what Blu-ray’s done.”

The Blu-ray Disc and 2-Disc Special Edition DVD versions are also loaded with special features including the “Gag Reel,” “The Dan Band!” and Phillips’ personal favorite, “The Madness of Ken Jeong.” “Ken is just the craziest guy on the planet,” Phillips says. “We let Ken do a ‘free one’ I call it. Let him just go off. ‘The Madness of Ken Jeong’ is sort of an uncut take of him just trying stuff. I think they cut some things out for legal reasons so if you see an edit don’t worry it was purely legal because he said things you can’t say. Other than that it was pretty much free form Ken Jeong stream of consciousness which is some of the weirdest stuff.”

Justin Bartha, who plays groom-to-be Doug Billings, recalls being on set the day after “The Madness of Ken Jeong” was shot. “Literally this is a movie where so much crazy stuff happens and you have crew members in shock still. They were like, ‘you won’t believe what happened. I don’t know if I can work on this movie any more.'”

“He offended everybody,” Phillips adds laughing.

Heather Graham, who plays “hippy stripper” Jade, is really looking forward to seeing the bonus feature of the extra photos from the missing camera. “You’re creating the back story of what they are trying to remember. In the script it didn’t say well this happened and that happened so we would just make it up. We knew that Ed was pulling his tooth out but it didn’t say in the script why he did it so while were shooting the movie Todd would just be like, ‘if you have a good idea why Ed would pull his tooth out, tell me.’ So everyone would just tell him ideas. Then one day someone said he just did it because he dared him that he wasn’t a good enough dentist.” Cut and print.

Fans will be getting a second helping of The Hangover when The Hangover 2 hits theaters Memorial Day Weekend 2011. Phillips is working on the script right now with plans to start shooting this summer, but don’t expect these four guys to head back to Vegas. “I don’t think it’s necessarily going to tie as closely to this evening as maybe some people want or think,” Phillips explains. “I think when you have created four really fun characters that have really good chemistry, you can take those guys and put them somewhere else and go through a new set of situations and circumstances and hopefully it’s just as interesting. What’s really ultimately appealing about ‘The Hangover’ is these four guys and their interaction. It’s not even Vegas. It’s not so much the device as it is the characters.”

What? No Vegas? Can you let us know where it will take place? “I’ve been instructed by Warners not to,” Phillips responds. “I think you’ll be surprised by the setting and the circumstances of how they end up there.”

If you can’t wait until Memorial Day ’11, you can get your The Hangover on December 15 and continue the celebration on New Year’s Day with “National Hangover Day.” Cure what ails you by logging on to NatlHangoverDay.com for all the details.

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