Thursday, May 26, 2011

Review: "The Hangover Part II" starring Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms, Zack Galifianakis

I can't imagine, given what's been shown in the marketing of "The Hangover Part II" that anyone expected a truly original movie. However, after seeing the movie, I can't help but wonder if the entire writing process involved opening the script for "The Hangover", doing a find-and-replace on a few key phrases, then running it through a blender before filming whatever got spit out.

That's not to say "The Hangover Part II" isn't funny, far from it. The movie is in fact quite funny at times. It's just nowhere near as funny as the first one, to the point that every time you're finished laughing, you start wondering, "hey, couldn't I have just saved some money and watched the first one at home again?"

(NOTE: I didn't even pay to see the movie and yet I kept having that exact thought the entire time, which can't be a good thing.)

After the obligatory in media res opening (again, same as the last movie), the story starts off with Stu getting ready to get married to a woman whose family is from Thailand, so the wedding is being held in Thailand. After a "bachelor brunch" and some wrangling to get Alan invited to the wedding, against Stu's wishes and better judgment. From there, the movie shifts to Thailand, where the guys, minus Doug (conveniently) get "fucked up" again and wake up in Bangkok with no memory of the previous night and find Stu's future brother-in-law Teddy missing.

From there the movie plays out like a series of winks and nods to the first movie, only they aren't particularly clever. There's a mix-up where they think they've found Teddy, only it's not Teddy. Stu finds out he had sex with a prostitute, instead of marrying one. Instead of a missing bag, there's a missing piece of paper with a code. Instead of Phil getting clawed by a tiger, he gets shot. Again, to be clear, the things that happen are often funny, it's just that everything feels beyond familiar.

In addition, a lot of the clever humor from the first movie has been replaced by a significant increase in penis jokes. It's like the writers decided that if they couldn't make a new movie, they could at least make a more gross one. Also, rather than the characters growing, they regress to more one-dimensional versions of themselves. Phil is even more of an asshole, Alan is even more of an idiotic man-child and Stu is more of a milquetoast tight-ass who gets batshit insane when he's drugged. In the end, I'm not even sure you can call "The Hangover Part II" a sequel. It's really more of a remake of "The Hangover" with the primary difference being the setting.

"The Hangover Part II" is rated R for pervasive language, strong sexual content including graphic nudity, drug use and brief violent images. Runs 102 minutes. Starring Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms, Zach Galifianakis, Justin Barthan and Ken Jeong. "The Hangover Part II" opens nationwide on May 26.

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