Thursday, May 26, 2011

The Hangover Part II review: Did I experience deja vu?

I guess you can call it an interesting, if not, ballsy experiment: what if, instead of attempting to top the sequel of the most successful R-rated comedy of all-time with more laughs and cleverness, we just remake the first film and set it in a more exotic location? That's basically what The Hangover Part II is like. Is it exactly the same as the first one? Not necessarily, but goddamn... it is close.

Now Todd Phillips made a point in his interviews that The Hangover was never really about plot and there's an element of truth to that. But there are some scenes where the jokes are literally carbon copies of the jokes that were in the first Hangover. They set the movie in an intriguing, unpredictable location like Bangkok, Thailand and yet almost everything about the film is predictable. That would be perfectly fine if the jokes along the way were funny, but they miss way more often than they hit. Zach Galifiankis's character, Alan... stole the first Hangover. In this film, nobody steals any scenes. In this film, you start to realize that the other main characters (played by Bradley Cooper and Ed Helms) aren't really that funny. The stuff that happens to them is funny (sometimes), but they are boring characters. Boring characters don't really carry over well into two films.

The plot of the film is identical to the plot of the first film which, once again, isn't the problem. Stu is getting married to a beautiful Thai woman and he invites his friends to the wedding, which is in Thailand. Stu's future father-in-law doesn't like Stu very much, but everything else about the wedding seems to be promising for him. Two nights before the wedding, the "Wolfpack" along with Stu's future brother-in-law (who is only 16) decide to just have one drink together. Just one drink! And that's where everything goes wrong and they lose Stu's brother-in-law. See, up until that point, the movie actually does just fine. After the first film, it's nice to see the gang back together again and there are quite a few enjoyable moments but once the film goes to Bangkok, it becomes incredibly formulaic, uninspired, and lazy. Don't get me wrong, some of the revelations are fairly funny. By some, I mean like two of them. But they're cheap jokes, too cheap. And when you start to enjoy the monkey more than any of the human characters, you know the film is in trouble.

Speaking of unenjoyable human characters, Mr. Chow (Ken Jeong) is back! Apparently, Alan and Mr. Chow remained friends since the first rendezvous and Alan calls him up so that they can party in Bangkok together. Mr. Chow is so annoying in this film that he instantly takes the film down a notch whenever he's on screen. With him, you get some "clever" quotes such as "Holla! City of squala!" and it just makes you roll your eyes. Unfortunately, his character is pretty crucial for the gang as he is the only one that can help them find Stu's missing brother-in-law.

The film could have been saved by Paul Giamatti if they had used him more, but he is only in two scenes! It was actually really cool to see Giamatti play a bad guy because you find out that he could be pretty convincing. It would've been nice to see him be a bad guy for a longer amount of time, but they decide Mr. Chow deserves more screen time than the Academy Award nominee. That makes a lot of sense.

Also, remember when Mel Gibson was supposed to be the tattoo artist in the film but was replaced due to some members of the cast disapproving of his cameo appearance? Well, even though Nick Cassavetes does a good enough job instead, a cameo appearance by Mel Gibson in the middle of the film probably would've helped. You only get one cameo appearance in this film and it's by Mike Tyson once again and while it's nice to see him in the movie, his appearance just demonstrates just how uninspired the film is.

And I think we deserve more than that... or do we? Why is that this summer's big tentpoles, so far have been so subpar? Pirates of the Caribbean 4 and The Hangover Part II just feel like a bunch of actors and crew members doing the bare minimum so that they can get their paycheck and leave. Todd Phillips may not care whether or not the plots to his films work, but why waste your time making the exact same film you made two years ago? Why not add something more substantial to the sequel instead of making it adequate enough for it to do huge numbers in the box office? And you know that's going to be the case for this film. The Hangover Part II will make huge bucks in the box office; everyone involved in making this film will go home happy. The people who lose are the people who actually pay money to watch it. It's a shame.

Rating: 4/10

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