THE HANGOVER: PART 2
** (out of 5)
May 27, 2011
Bradley Cooper as PHIL
Ed Helms as STU
Zach Galifianakis as ALAN
Justin Bartha as DOUG
Ken Jeong as MR. CHOW
Paul Giamatti as KINGSLEY
Mason Lee as TEDDY
Directed by: Todd Phillips
BY KEVIN CARR
Unlike many film critics out there, I’m all about the Hollywood experience. You don’t see me complaining about the onslaught of 3D films, unless I’m complaining about the unnecessary ticket price hike for them. You find me front and center (or rather middle and on the aisle) for the big summer blockbusters and holiday event films. I’m all for big franchises, and I love a great sequel.
But even I can’t look “The Hangover: Part II” dead in the eye with a straight face. It is the worst kind of sequel, even though it manages to have some very funny moments. That doesn’t mean it’s the worst kind of movie. In fact, I’m giving this thing a middling review. I can’t say I didn’t enjoy parts of the movie. I’m just disappointed. When I left the theater, I felt like the father who just had to pick his sixteen year old son up from jail after he was arrested for reckless driving on a Friday night. It happens, sure. I wouldn’t hate the kid, but I wouldn’t be happy about it.
In this second film, the Wolf Pack is back. This time, it’s Stu (Ed Helms) who is getting married. Instead of heading to Vegas, the gang is off to Thailand to celebrate his wedding to the alarmingly younger looking Lauren (Jamie Chung). However, what starts off as a single beer turns into another blacked-out night of debauchery, which they have to reconstruct from the streets of Bangkok.
The reason “The Hangover: Part II” is a bad movie at its core is that it is virtually void of any sort of originality. It literally retreads key plot points, scenes, jokes and entire sequences. It’s such a rip-off of itself that I cannot even recall a sequel that committed such an offense. Even crappy slasher movie sequels offered something different, although that might have just been the way the horny young teenagers were killed. But in the end, Jason, Freddy and Michael Myers have a more original shtick than the Wolf Pack does.
Instead of Vegas, it’s Thailand. Instead of a tooth pulled, it’s a face tattoo. Instead of a baby, it’s a monkey. You see where this is going. You could literally smash yourself in the face with a frying pan, stumble into this movie and mistake it for the original… almost.
Sadly, it’s that “almost” that makes the film less entertaining. While Vegas has its own smarmy underbelly, it has a beautiful glitzy glamour that distracts us from it. The appearance of Bangkok is so sweaty, grimy and dirty that I wanted to take a shower after seeing the film.
When “Due Date” came out last year, it was clear that Todd Phillips was courting his darker side. Even the cinematography was drearier than we saw in “The Hangover.” The failure of “Due Date” is that while Robert Downey Jr. played the Bradley Cooper asshole and Zach Galifianakis nailed the Zach Galifianakis character, there was no Ed Helms to balance things out. In the first “Hangover,” the character of Stu was actually a decent guy who just ended up in a real awful situation.
In “The Hangover: Part II,” Stu is a lesser man. It was sort of sweet how he accidentally married Heather Graham’s character in the first film. But what happens in this film (which I won’t detail here, but you’ll know what I’m talking about when you see it) just doesn’t sit well. It makes him no better than the other guys. Not to lecture movies called “The Hangover” about their moral center, but there needs to be a certain likeability to the characters, and this sequel had none of that.
There are some decent moments, but they usually result from one-liners or throwaway moments, which did make me laugh out loud but failed to carry the film. Sadly, “The Hangover: Part II” suffers from the go-to position of simply copying the original film whenever they needed a laugh. That works as a meta joke in the first fifteen minutes of the movie, but by the time the film wore into the one-hour mark, I was getting tired of the “oh no, not again” angle.
What made “The Hangover” so cool was its freshness. It was a great, hilarious movie with some relative unknowns making some comedy gold. But like I imagine Zach Galifianakis to be in his undershorts he hasn’t changed in a couple days on the sweaty streets of Bangkok, this sequel has no freshness and is actually quite unsavory.
Finally, if you though the musical cameo at the end of “Bridesmaids” was random and awkward, hold onto your bootstraps for this one. It makes the sudden performance of “War” by Jack Black and the Lilliputians at the end of “Gulliver’s Travels” seem Oscar-worthy in comparison.