Monday, June 6, 2011

Movie Review: The Hangover Part II

The Hangover Part II **
Directed by: Todd Phillips.
Written by: Craig Mazin & Scot Armstrong & Todd Phillips.
Starring: Bradley Cooper (Phil), Ed Helms (Stu), Zach Galifianakis (Alan), Justin Bartha (Doug), Ken Jeong (Mr. Chow), Paul Giamatti (Kingsley), Mike Tyson (Himself), Jeffrey Tambor (Sid Garner), Mason Lee (Teddy), Jamie Chung (Lauren), Sasha Barrese (Tracy), Gillian Vigman (Stephanie), Aroon Seeboonruang (Monk).

On a purely laugh out loud moments basis, the original The Hangover (2009) is one of the best American comedies in recent years. It is vulgar and disgusting, but it is also hilarious, which is the best way for a comedy to overcome all their sins. If a movie makes you laugh, you pretty much forget about the rest of it – and The Hangover made me laugh more than most comedies usually do. The problem with The Hangover Part II isn’t so much that it is pretty much the same movie as the first one – except in Bangkok instead of Las Vegas – but that this time around, it simply isn’t very funny. Part of that is, of course, the same problem many sequels have – which is that you can’t be surprised twice by the same series – but for the most part I don’t think that’s the problem. The problem is that the film is more juvenile and disgusting than the first film, yet simply does not generate the same number of laughs. It just kind of sits there on screen. I chuckled a few times, but that’s about it.

The film is about the same group of guys getting together for the same reason. This time, Stu (Ed Helms) is getting married to a beautiful woman originally from Thailand. It means a lot to her family that they get married in her home country, so Stu along with his pals Phil (Bradley Cooper) and Doug (Justin Bartha) come to Thailand, and because Doug laid a guilt trip on Stu, he invites Alan (Zach Galifianakis) along as well. Stu doesn’t want a bachelor party, but two days before the wedding, they do talk him into heading down the beach for a bonfire and a couple of beers. They next day, they wake up in a dirty hotel room in Thailand. Somehow Chow (Ken Jeong) is there, but Stu’s future brother in law Teddy (Mason Lee) is missing. Chow says he knows what happened to them, and is about to explain it, when he collapses, presumingly dead. So once again, Phil, Stu and Alan have to piece together a wild night in Bangkok, and find their missing friend.

I honestly did not expect very much walking into The Hangover Part II. I saw a week late, and the reviews were already not very kind, but I wanted to see it anyway. Sometimes, keeping your expectations low can be the reason why you like a movie many others don’t. Not this time however. The movie has way too many jokes about penises and sex and cum and the drug dealing monkey, throws in a lot of colorful swearing and all sorts of other kinds of juvenile crap. So did the first movie. The difference is that this time, the filmmakers seem to think it’s enough to appeal to the lowest common denominator – they don’t do anything all that interesting or funny once they get there. The first movie did. It was just as juvenile, but also genuinely funny and original, created real characters somehow out of the mess of the movie, and it all came together in a satisfying way. Here, they simply seem to be going through the motions. What worked last time is repeated here, but dumbed down even more.

I’m not going to lie and say that the movie didn’t make me laugh at all. It did, a few times. Todd Philips is a fine comedy director, and his cast, as the first movie proved, is top notch, so of course the film has a few laughs. But not very many – and certainly not enough for me to suffer through the rest of the movie. To me, a movie like The Hangover should have been a one off – a brilliant, unexpected comedy that had a premise that is only going to work once. There’s nothing wrong with that. Not every movie can support a sequel – as The Hangover Part II proves.

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