The Hangover (2009)
The hangover (CD cover)

Director: Todd Phillips (also directed School for Scoundrels (2006))

Soundtrack on the New Line Records label, NLR 39170

Clip 1: Track 1. Theme from The hangover (latter portion)
Clip 2: Track 5. Sin City (first part)


Beautifully summarised by the Israel title: "Stopping in Vegas on the way to a wedding". A group of chums celebrate the blandest getting married by spending their stag night in Las Vegas with his subnormal inlaw. Waking next morning with no memory, they are one groom short and spend the following day retracing their steps, against the ticking wedding clock. A decent premise that isn't quite filled to capacity with enough humour to make it more than a chuckle over a beer, but the combo of pain and embarrassment has quite a hefty niche with the film-going public. American Pie for the manchild generation, and, to give Todd Phillips (and a well-designed trailer and poster campagne) credit, the film was a satisfying box office success.


Beck's score for The hangover seems a very simple recipe of a wicked little half-melody (see clip 1) and plenty of rock-styled tracks; one provides an identity, the other a setting and a beat to help keep even the flat the scenes moving. Almost hidden in there is a little sense of heart, something to underscore the usual uncomfortable bonding scenes and the bride and groom (see clip 2), and he gradually inserts more adventurous scoring to spoof other genres (e.g. in tracks 6 and 7). In a sense this is a tried and tested concoction for Beck, but this is a particularly fresh example that could stutter and fail in transfer to disc.


The makers' confidence in the film's ability to capitalise on success is evident in the soundtrack CD. Chris Beck's music is bolstered by dialogue from the film in a way that both aids one's appreciation of what the music is underscoring and ruins any chance of the soundtrack being enjoyed from a purely musical standpoint. The verdict depends entirely on the success of the score outside context and the quotability of the dialogue. The big surprise is that this proves a good call: Beck's music is perky and engaging but because the film is a cobbled sequence of weird or mad scenes with no real emotional engagement or dynamic shape, the film dialogue gives enough context and chuckle to set it on its way. A huge plus in its favour is its brevity: at just over 20 minutes the soundtrack feels well paced, not tiresome, and proves a good alternative to an 8 minute suite.


01. Theme from The hangover (feat. dialogue by Bradley Cooper, Sasha Barrese") (1'37")
02. Meet Mr. Chow (feat. dialogue by Zach Galifianakis, Justin Bartha") (1'37")
03. Tracking It (1'15")
04. Joyride (feat. dialogue by Jeffrey Tambor, Justin Bartha, Rachael Harris, Ed Helms") (2'33")
05. Sin City (feat. dialogue by Zach Galifianakis") (2'09")
06. In the face (feat. dialogue by Ed Helms, Bradley Cooper, Rob Riggle, Zach Galifianakis") (1'34")
07. Eighty grand (1'34")
08. Stupid tiger (feat. dialogue by Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms, Zach Galifianakis") (1'41")
09. Donations (2'50")
10. Lucky charm (feat. dialogue by Bradley Cooper, Ken Jeong") (2'03")
11. Rooftop rescue (2'06")



Music by Christophe Beck
Conducted by Mike Nowak
Orchestrated by Kevin Kliesch
Score mixer: Casey Stone
Score programmer: Jake Monaco

Orchestra members listed: violin (22), violas (8), cellos (6), double basses (4), bass guitar (Chris Chaney), guitars (George Doering, Jake Monaco), percussion (3 performers)