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Box-Office Upset: "Hangover" Hangs Tough and Pulls Out in Front

POSTED:

This just in: The surprise Belmont Stakes win of Summer Bird over Mine That Bird this weekend is now reflected in the weekend box-office. Early reports had Pixar's Up edging out The Hangover as the No. 1 movie. Not so fast.

It turns out the R-rated comedy raunchfest squeaked past the family-friendly Up — $44.8 million to $44.6 million. It's a shocker. R-rated movies traditionally start slow and build if they're lucky. But here's Hangover bolting like a rocket. What happened? Will Ferrell sure could have used some of that Hangover mojo. Ferrell's adventure-comedy Land of the Lost barely scared up $19 million in its opening frame, way low for Willy Boy. So let's examine what Hangover has that the competition doesn't.

Directed by Todd Phillips (Old School) from a screenplay by Jon Lucas & Scott Moore (Four Christmases), Hangover takes moldy material (a bachelor party in Vegas? Boring!) and runs it with a fresh approach. I think it's the teamwork of Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms, and Zach Galifianakis that put Hangover out in front. And I'm looking for you to tell me which one of these three guys deserves credit as the most valuable comedy player on Team Hangover. Jockey Kent Desormeaux won applause for riding Summer Bird to victory at Belmont. Who would you pick as Hangover's MVP? I'll announce the results when you've all weighed in.

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Peter Travers

Rolling Stone senior writer Peter Travers has reviewed movies for the magazine for more than 20 years. Send your comments and questions to him here.

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