It must surely be the case that "The Hangover 2" is the moment people come to realise their folly in liking the first film, and thus come to review their opinions on it. Indeed, how can one realistically claim to enjoy the initial 2009 effort, about the hijinks of three American men lost and confused in the city of Las Vegas, without proclaiming the superiority of this one too? It may, of course, be the case that you claim to like both, but this is surely mere self-delusion as this second effort is patently not good - it is about as ordinary as the first one, no better or worse - a series of chaotic sequences involving connected men in an alien locale which doesn't happen to have the raw punch of the first because neither the jokes nor the scenarios are fresh.
Within the first hour, one can practically hear the voices of the producers and writers which radiated out of the well-groomed office suites of a large Los Angeles building bathed in 27 degrees of sunshine - people knocking around ideas for the sequel to the wildly successful and perhaps genuinely funny in two or three places comedy "The Hangover". Let's not mince our words: the second film exists because of the financial success of the first, nothing else.
The film is, more or less, a rehash of the initial outing: the location has changed to Thailand, offering the dynamic of a language barrier for our leads to struggle through, and another character has joined the troupe in the form of the young; Asian and gifted Teddy (Mason Lee), but the formula is not one that has been strayed from especially greatly.
As was the case with the first film, I did not believe for one second that the parties involved would know one another; care for one another or have anything to do with one another in the real world: Phil (Bradley Cooper), a primary school teacher who steals his pupils' money in the first film, here attempts to swipe a prescription sheet for some narcotics which will take you to a happy place whilst at the dentist. Ha ha. Said dentist is Stuart (Ed Helms), who is the series' lateral thinker and musician. Completing the foursome is Doug (Justin Bartha), whom I spent most of the first film wondering how he would know these people, and Alan (Zach Galifianakis) - Doug's somewhat retarded in-law.
It is Stuart's wedding in Thailand that propels the gang off and away for their latest escapade, one which will eventually see them (minus Doug, whose presence in the franchise may now very well be redundant) charge around the noisy, squalid streets of Bangkok and its surrounding suburbs looking for soon-to-be brother in law Teddy. Todd Phillips and his creative crew tweak the 'winning' formula only very slightly, this time forcing the crew into their misadventure after they each agree to have a quiet drink on the beach rather than a boisterous night out. Things do not go entirely to plan, and someone from the original gang of course is missing when the time comes to wake up in a mysterious hotel room: Stuart does not lose a tooth, but instead obtains a tattoo; there is no tiger in the suite, but instead they have acquired a monkey; the groom is fine, but his father-in-law's pride and joy has disappeared without a trace...
This propels Stuart; Alan and Phil into action, but the writing is generally lazy: Thai stereotypes, such as the monastery dwelling Buddhist monk on a vow of silence and the ladyboy whore, pepper the experience, while the film has to resort to using a monkey to boost its chuckle count. Monkeys are funny, aren't they?.
If the writing is lazy, the adventure itself is mostly unspectacular: whether it was the regurgitation of old jokes or something else, very little of "The Hangover 2" is actually that funny, but then it struck me that perhaps it isn't supposed to be.... There is a strange air to the film, almost as if the predicament this time round is something to endure rather than have fun experiencing. The gang's hammering around Las Vegas and the surrounding Nevada desert carried with it a fun, punchy feeling - it was a process they sensed they'd survive, if only they could piece together the clues.... In Bangkok, the 'wolfpack' have strayed too far from home and the film plays more like an odd action/horror hybrid as the gang bear seedy backstreets; psychotic Russian cartels and friends' severed fingers...
Where Doug's fiancée was afforded the opportunity to spit fire at the crew's losing the love of her life in the 2009 effort, tremendous strain is undertaken to prevent Teddy's father from ever knowing that they placed this clean-cut young man in the way of any kind of harm. Despite not necessarily having anything 'wrong' with him, it had already been established that Stuart is disliked profusely by his future father in-law - the vanishing of Teddy under his watch risks enraging him even further, potentially scuppering the wedding entirely. But without Teddy's father ever discovering he was first lost, and then retrieved, nothing is learnt and the entire arc of his coming to accept Stuart as an in-law himself is rendered totally redundant.
"The Hangover", not to mention this sequel, are films which most people seem to really enjoy - I think most critics seemed to realise they were had the first time round when the time came to see this second film, hence the backlash which seems to have been born out of their own frustration with themselves for not getting the review right first time round. I'd like to be able to enjoy it all with everybody else, but I just find myself unable to get involved with any of it. You could do a lot worse than this and its slightly older brother, but you could probably do better.
The Hangover Part II
Action / Comedy / Mystery
The Hangover Part II
Action / Comedy / Mystery
Stu is getting married. Along with Doug, Phil, and his soon-to-be brother-in-law Teddy, he regretfully invites Alan to Thailand for the wedding. After a quiet night on the beach with a beer and toasting marshmallows by the camp fire, Stu, Alan and Phil wake up in a seedy apartment in Bangkok. Doug is back at the resort, but Teddy is missing, there's a monkey with a severed finger, Alan's head is shaved, Stu has a tattoo on his face, and they can't remember any of it. The wolf-pack retrace their steps through strip clubs, tattoo parlors and cocaine-dealing monkeys on the streets of Bangkok as they try and find Teddy before the wedding.
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November 17, 2011 at 07:53 PM