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The Hangover Part II (2011)

May 25, 2011


written by: Craig Mazin, Scott Armstrong & Todd Phillips 

produced by: Todd Phillips & Daniel Goldberg

directed by: Todd Phillips

rated R (for pervasive language, strong sexual content including graphic nudity, drug use and brief violent images)
102 min. 
U.S. release date: May 26, 2011


Is this to be the summer of the hard-R comedies or just sequels with “more of the same”? Last week we had more of the same Jack Sparrow shtick and now we have more of the same depraved antics from the Wolfpack. Studio heads will continue in their attempts at recapturing blockbuster magic with each sequel, yet it rarely ever happens. Todd Phillips latest immoral comedy, “The Hangover Part II”, should have been called “The Hangover Redo”, since it’s basically the same as the first film. Now we get more raunch, a monkey replacing both a tiger and a baby, all taking place in seedy Bangkok instead of  the cheesy glitz of Vegas. Clearly, there’s a double-meaning to the term “hangover” at play here. 

At least with the first film you kind of felt bad for these poor saps, but if the same exact events occur on a different continent, they just wind up looking stupid. And although I laughed throughout, I too wound up feeling sort of stupid (even annoyed and a little dirty) after enduring this unconscionable comedy. 
The story involves another upcoming wedding and the inevitable disastrous night out for a trio of juvenile men. This time out, dentist Stu (Ed Helms) is the one tying the knot. He wants to put to rest his party demon and marry Lauren (Jamie Chung) on a beautiful island in Thailand.  It’s unclear how Stu met Lauren or what they see in each other. Was she was a patient or a mail-order bride? It doesn’t matter, because that’s not what this movie is about. Phillips could care less about all that, since the goal is just to get everyone back together and ship them off to southeast Asia. 
At first, Phil (Bradley Cooper) whines and complains that the wedding is so far away, but we know better. He and Doug (Justin Bartha) will support Stu, only there’s a catch….Doug’s wife (Sasha Barrese) begs Doug to take her brother Alan (Zach Galifianakis) with them. If you saw the last film, you know what an awful idea this is. Alan, a self-described “stay-at-home-son”, isn’t just a socially inept hanger-on in need of some friends, he’s a certifiable nutjob partly responsible for the catastrophic bachelor party in Vegas. Again, we know how this will play out. Against his better (albeit limited) judgement, Stu agrees to invite Alan and the Wolfpack is off to Thailand….or, as Alan pronounces it “Thigh-land”. 
Upon their arrival, we learn that Lauren’s father (Nirut Sirichanya) hates Stu, who insults him with the age-old joke about how a dentist isn’t really a doctor and humiliates him with a toast comparing him to soggy white rice. On the eve before the big day, Phil convinces Stu to join him, Doug, and Alan (who brings marshmallows to roast) on the beach for some American brews, promising one each. His bride-to-be encourages him to go and take her sixteen year-old Stanford brainiac, Teddy (Mason Lee, son of Ang), who “doesn’t get out much,” with them. 
Uh-huh. Here we go again….
Phil, Stu, and Alan wake up in a dilapidated Bangkok hotel room (far from the five-star resort they were at), completely wasted, with some severe image alterations. That’s right. It happened again. Why? Because it had to. Because that’s the point of this sequel. They have no idea where they are or why the only thing left of Teddy is his severed finger floating in water. They also have no clue how they acquired a drug-dealing monkey or why a half-naked Mr. Chow (Ken Jeong, reprising his flamboyant crime lord role) is laying on the floor. 
We later learn why Doug isn’t with them, but we know why….he was the lost McGuffin in the last film, so he has to be taken removed again. This time around the frantic trio must find Teddy. To do so they must survive a foreign city and in the process, retrace their intoxicated steps, which leads them to gangsters (among them, Paul Giamatti) and a surly tattoo artist (played by director Nick Cassavettes, who was once played by Liam Neeson, who replaced Mel Gibson), in their attempts to make it back in time for the wedding, somewhat unscathed.






There you have it. Not much ingenuity on display here. It’s what I feared when I first heard there would be a sequel. With all that happened to these guys in Vegas, I found myself wondering why (or how) in the world could these guys experience anything similar. The answer is simple, the first movie was the surprise summer hit of 2009, so it must be repeated. Unfortunately, it just feels like the screenwriters took the script from the first one, crossed out words like “tiger” and “Vegas”, and scribbled in “monkey” and “Bangkok”. 

Phillips doesn’t just shoot the morally corrupt nightlife, there are some scenic island and jungle shots for us to take in. But the hot and sticky mess of the city is where all the anxiety-infused drama lies, since this is where the guys must trace their steps. Along the way, they must contend with continuous power outages, getting shot at, and beaten by a silent monk. That would be enough right there, but then there’s the bevy of trannys called “ladyboys” (figure it out on your own) that will take viewers to the point of no return.  There is bound to be an uproar by some organization or community, outraged by some depiction or representation in this movie.  

I only saw the previous film a couple of times, but I don’t recall the tone being this dark and mean. I guess it shouldn’t come as a huge surprise though since Phillips last comedy, “Due Date” was also a mean-spirited raunchy road trip. Regardless, there’s definitely a desensitized audience for these type of comedies. 






Like I mentioned above though, I laughed. That’s because there are some funny parts, but it’s mainly because there are some talented actors here playing hilarious characters. It’s undeniably fun to see Helms completely lose it and watch Jeong barrel his way through Bangkok. I prefer to see Helms maintain the characters sweetness as his world falls apart, but Stu is embracing the dark side a bit too readily here and the whole thing feels forced. In the spirit of repeating every bet from “The Hangover”, we are treated to a Stu song sequence again. This time, it’s a funny ode to Alan called “Alantown” (to the tune of Billy Joel’s “Allentown”), played on an acoustic guitar while the trio is on a long-boat in a canal. A nice bit, but it just feels inserted because it was in the first movie.

I get that Galifianakis isn’t for everyone, but I find him to be a riot. He’s become one of those guys I’ll watch in anything, and for the most part I haven’t been disappointed. Alan is his breakout role and it’s one in which he fully and naturally embodies. Just his body language and facial expressions had me in stitches. In fact, I almost would’ve preferred that Phillips did what was done with “Get Him to the Greek” (a spin-off of “Forgetting Sarah Marshall“) and make a movie showcasing Alan, the loose cannon with a screw loose, instead of treading familiar ground with a lazy sequel. 

Overall, the movie follows the same recipe as the first and the results are disappointing. Beyond the location and few gags, there’s nothing really different or better. I’m sure fans will embrace seeing these unbelievable characters go through the ringer again. It’s just too bad that nothing inventive is done with them. The tacked-on ending with a needless appearance by Mike Tyson was flat-out annoying, which really drove home the fact that any originality was left in Vegas.



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