Thursday, May 26, 2011

The Hangover Part II

Phil (Bradley Cooper), Alan (Zach Galifianakis), Doug (Justin Bartha) and Stu (Ed Helms) are reunited in Thailand for Stu's wedding to his new bride (Jamie Chung) in this sequel to the surprise box office hit of 2009. Once again things get crazy and a forgotten night leads to a blurry-eyed morning in a hotel room and the search for a lost member of the Wolfpack, this time the bride's 16 year-old brother (Mason Lee).

Like most sequels, this one is far too similar to the original with almost the identical setup and resolution we got the first time around. But hey, this one has a monkey! Director Todd Phillips' logic is simple: If it worked once why not try it again? Not only do we get drugged-induced haziness but mistaken identity, kidnapping, and Stu's crying over an unexpected change to his appearance.

This time the drugged setup feels even more forced the the original and creates an unnecessary change to Galifianakis' character who was always creepy and strange, but here comes off much meaner than in the first film.

The Hangover Part II ups the ante in terms of bizarre comedic situations to put the characters through by placing them in Bangkok rather than Vegas. As you might guess, things get more than a little out of hand. Let's just say the tattoo isn't the only thing Stu receives during his night of misadventure. When the jokes work the movie moves along at a pretty good clip, but there are also plenty of jokes which fall flat including a lackluster ending that's as disappointing as it is confusing.

The Wolfpack aren't the only ones to make the trip back to the big screen. Ken Jeong returns as Mr. Chow, who we learn has become with friends with Alan since the original craziness in the desert. His return and expanded role work work well enough, and provide some of the film's funniest moments, but Mike Tyson's cameo this time around is just sad to watch.

I've listed quite a few problems with the film so far, but that's not to say I didn't enjoy The Hangover Part II, I did. At times it's a lot of fun, but at others it feels like shameful pandering. There are plenty of laughs (both large and small) to be had. Sadly, this one earns more than its share of groans as well.

My biggest fear going into the sequel was that it would be far too similar to the original. That fear, it turns out, was well-founded. It's by the the biggest weakness of the sequel that it follows the original's story (including what happens to each individual character) far too closely. Even Doug is kept outside of the action, just like the first Hangover. A little more imagination could have gone a long way.

For an adult summer comedy (it's definitely earns its hard R-rating) The Hangover Part II provides as much good as bad. Fans of the original should have some fun with this one as long as they keep their expectations low and don't ask anything other than more of the same out of the franchise.

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