08 June 2011

The Hangover Part II

The Hangover Part II

Starring Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms, Zack Galifianakis, Justin Bartha, Ken Jeong, Jamie Chung
Written by Todd Phillips, Scott Armstrong, Craig Mazin
Directed by Todd Phillips
Release: 26 May 2011
Legendary Pictures, 102 mins., Rated R

Plot: THE HANGOVER in Bangkok.

In 2009, the Must See/The Best/End All-Comedy film for audiences and (specifically) young adults was THE HANGOVER. It blasted into theaters making a good gazillion million dollars, and within opening weekend folks were enjoying their own self-sponsored HANGOVER quote-a-thon, usually based off some 'brilliant' Alan or Chang joke. Aside from a few chuckles, HANGOVER didn't do much for me. It was enjoyable, I'll give it that, but overall, HANGOVER simply wasn't the Must See/The Best/End-All-Comedy film the hype was making it to out be. Well, like it or not, here we are with THE HANGOVER PART II (sorta did the 'Part II' bit of the title), and as expected, the writers do their damnest to recreate the success of the original by heavily mirroring it, retreading jokes, beats, and subplots without creating too much of a noteworthy variance to the formula.

All that aside, HANGOVER PART II just really isn't funny.

There is a clever bit with Paul Giamatti in the third act that I did enjoy, and some material involving Alan and monks who've taken a vow of silence elicited a chuckle, but the film is surprisingly devoid of laughs. And that's what matters to me. Loads of people dislike Steve Martin's PINK PANTHER, but I maintain absolute enjoyment from the flick because I laugh a lot from it. Thus, I love PANTHER 2008. The sequel I expected to love, and I did not, cos the laughs just weren't there. They ain't here for this sequel, either.

Laughs and hype and retreading-the-past aside, HANGOVER PART II sort of felt like a rushed production. When the film began, I prepared myself to be entertained by the Wolf Pack's shenanigans in Bangkok, and before I knew it, the film was over. It was as if hardly anything happened. Well, there was that nifty Paul Giamatti thing, and a wise monkey, and one of the characters getting shot (although it only affects that one scene and isn't brought up again), but otherwise, PART II doesn't have anything highly memorable or extravagant or engaging, really. I wasn't glued into the mystery, frankly, and I wasn't glued into the cast. Perhaps PART II is one of those rare cases where 'more' would have been better and possibly necessary to make a enjoyable sequel. Feels like there's not enough shenanigans for the Wolf Pack to endeavor to regain their memory of the nights events.

PART II climaxes with the wedding, of course, and a obnoxious cameo from another part one character. But before that, when Stu, Alan, Phil and Teddy make it back just in time for the ceremony, there is a interesting little bit that's also more unbelievable than anything in the last two films: a very shattered and mentally insane Stu goes off on a a tangent to his fiance Laren's father that he has "a demon inside" himself, and ends the tangent by demanding Lauren's father give them his "motherfucking blessing." Right. Cos that would work. Just trying to figure out the logic of that breaking point of Stu's. Sure, I wager the writers felt obligated in that PART II needs to show a character 'growing' by some margin, and this 'I'm a crazy motherfucker'-type epiphany of Stu's supposedly fits that bill. If anyone wanted to write a thesis demeaning the HANGOVER films, I'm sure they would take Stu's very angry monologue and dissect the potential meanings from it: the Wolf Pack represents all that is inherently evil in mankind, that we all have a demon inside ourselves that need to be let out, that we perhaps control our inner evil urges on a day by day basis but succumb to them under the influence, etc. See? It's fun doing that.

One last note: why the frak did Doug stay out of the story yet again? Throw him in, damnit! Would have at least changed the dynamic. And I really, really, really, sincerely, genuinely hope this is the last we see of Chow. Most. Annoying. Character. in. the. Universe. Give us Hayden Christensen anyday.

As it stands, THE HANGOVER PART II just is. It exists. The film isn't good, and the film isn't bad. I understand its reason for existing and for why the writers and actors went the route they did. It simply wasn't enough. That said, there is a part of me that sort of hopes for a PART III, if only out of interest to see if they would shake up the existing format and add some life to the story and characters. So here we are then, with 2011's much-anticipated comedy sequel failing to make with the "ha ha" or entertain. Just might be the summer of superheroes, after all.

Rating: 5/10 = A super underwhelming sequel to a already underwhelming original, the film feels halfhearted and doesn't really hit any comedic notes or do anything fresh.

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