REVIEW: The Hangover Part II

31 05 2011

I’ve harped on Hollywood relentlessly for relying so heavily on formula to churn out movies, and this summer looks to be a barrage of cliches and banalities.  If, according to these criteria, any other movie this summer is worse than “The Hangover Part II,” I will be shocked.  From the opening scene, virtually identical to the first film’s, it’s clear that the sequel will cling to the exact same structure that made its predecessor a $277 million surprise smash.

From this point, there are two ways to react to the movie.  You can be disgusted by the writers’ lack of originality, scoffing at how it settles for being just a cheap imitation of the original.  You can sit there and wait for it to make even the slightest of departures from the formula – a wait that would be in vain.  It’s a carbon copy, an identical twin, you name it.

Or, as I would recommend, you can put aside this nagging concern, accept up front that you are going to be watching the same outline of a movie with slightly different jokes and situations, and just enjoy that you have another 100 minutes to spend with the Wolfpack.  I would have been content finding one-liners that I missed the first ten times in the original on HBO, but it’s kind of nice to get a scene change and a few new jokes.  It’s a sort of Faustian bargain for the viewer, but one ultimately worth making since putting Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms, and Zach Galifianakis together in a room with a camera is guaranteed to generate some hard-core laughter.

“It happened again,” says Cooper’s Phil Wenneck at the beginning of the movie, and indeed, they have another one of the most forgettable unforgettable nights of their lives.  There’s a bit more disorientation thrown into the mix the second time around as they wake up in a run-down Bangkok hotel, miles away from the tropical Thai island where Stu (Ed Helms) is tying the knot.  In the city of squalor, the “three best friends that anybody could have” work backwards trying once again to piece together the night in order to find the missing member of their party, this time the 16-year-old brother of Stu’s fiancée, Teddy.

The filmmakers bring back everything you could have loved from the first movie.  If you thought Leslie Chao was a laugh riot, you get even more of him in the sequel!  If you loved Jeffrey Tambor’s creepy offhanded comments, he makes a little cameo to satisfy your craving.  While it’s good to see some of the best elements present from the original, the focus on duplicating its successes shorts the sequel as it creates little new for it to call its own.  There are no hidden gems, no interesting and hilarious supporting characters to steal the show save a chain-smoking monkey.

That means that the burden of bringing all the humor lies on the backs of the Wolfpack, and they don’t disappoint.  Cooper brings his A-game playing the cocky, self-obsessed straight man, as does Helms, whose biting sardonic wit tinged with some crazy paranoia make him a hilarious force on the screen.  However, just as in the original “Hangover,” the real star of the show is Zach Galifianakis, whose endless neuroses and oddities makes his Alan an absolute laugh riot.  Whether he’s asking if a monastery is a P.F. Chang’s or reacting with suspicion to someone, Galifianakis will have you in stitches as he keeps surprising you with his quirks.

“The Hangover Part II” is like breathing in airplane air.  Recycled, stale, but better than not having air to breathe at all.  In essence, it gives you exactly what you expected – and nothing more.  Chances are if you liked the first one, you will still like the second.  The humor is still funny, but it loses the sense of surprise and novelty that allowed it to rock your world before.  B / 



4 responses

31 05 2011

It has its positives if you can look past the sameness. The Wolfpack is still enjoyable to hang around.

1 06 2011

What’s missing is a huge part of what made the first film so good: the element of surprise and the actual joy of having all these crazy situations happen. This is a dark and morbid cash-in and nothing more, except with some chuckles. Good review, check out mine when you can!

2 06 2011
M. Carter @ the Movies

I liked the original film, so I’d probably like the sequel at least a little bit … but that doesn’t solve the “why do I care?” problem. Plus, I hear Mike Tyson sings in this one. I would give that man my next paycheck if he promised never to sing again.

4 06 2011
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