Wednesday, April 11, 2012

The Hangover Part II

Directed by Todd Phillips.

The gang’s all back for another misadventure. It’s Stu (Helms) who is tying the knot. He and his lovely fiancĂ© Lauren (Chung) are having their wedding in her native Thailand. Of course, he invites his buddies Phil (Cooper) and Doug (Bartha) to tag along. Understandably, after the events of the first movie, it takes quite a bit of cajoling before Stu agrees to invite Alan (Galifianakis). Per Stu’s orders, there will be no bachelor party. Begrudgingly, he agrees to have one beer with the fellas on the beach before returning to Lauren’s side. Of course, much more than that happens and the boys don’t remember any of it when they wake up in a rundown Bangkok hotel. This time, the missing party is Lauren’s little brother/child prodigy Teddy played by the Mason Lee, the son of famed director Ang Lee. Teddy is only 16 but is already a Stanford pre-med student. The only sign of him in the room is the finger he seems to have lost at some point during the night. It’s still wearing his Stanford ring. Mysteriously, they have added one: Mr. Chow (Jeong), the villain from part one. Now, he’s on their side. The guys going all over Bangkok looking for Teddy ensues.

If you’ve see the first one, then you’ll notice that this is essentially the same movie. This is both a good and a bad thing. It’s good because I suspect the audience for this is people who love the original and want more of it. Part II is more than happy to oblige. It’s a sequel that doesn’t seem to tell a new part of the story as much as it just gives us an alternate version of its predecessor. The downside to this is that the sameness gets to be overwhelming, at times. The freshness and mystery of the original is gone. We have a fairly good idea how this will turn out and, in a number of cases, it’s kind of hard to laugh at the same jokes twice.

Once that freshness and mystery has dissipated, the only thing we have left are those jokes. Due to many of them being recycled material, they’re much more hit and miss than in the previous film. Luckily, when they hit, they tend to hit big. There is loud, hearty laughter to be had at several points. Other funny moments eminate from Alan through another superb performance by Zach Galifianakis. You may find more with Chow, but that depends on whether or not you find Ken Jeong annoying. The same goes for the monkey the boys have acquired.

One other thing does mark this as a true sequel, though. Things are bigger. Aside from Teddy potentially missing a digit, or worse, Chow is now an international criminal with international heat on him. There’s some shooting and huge car chase. Even Stu’s physical dilemmas are bigger. He wakes up with a tattoo on his face. It is a replica of the one that adorns the grill of Mike Tyson. Instead of being a nod to the first film like it’s obviously intended, it’s a constant reminder of the better movie. Still, later on we’ll learn something about Stu even bigger than that. As for Tyson, he himself eventually turns up again. Sadly, this time he does something far worse to our ears than he ever did to Evander Holyfield’s.

The Hangover Part II isn’t a bad watch, despite all I’ve said. It just pales in comparison with its predecessor. As stated, it’s the same basic formula. Unfortunately, most of the new ingredients dilute the potency of its humor. Mainly to blame is all the action flick stuff thrown in. Whenever those elements pop up, they give the movie a far more serious tone. Instead of action and comedy complementing one another, they take turns. This makes the movie uneven, almost as if we’re switching channels back and forth between a sitcom and a murder mystery. To be honest, this is probably a lot better for people who haven’t seen Part I. With that said, I do like the movie. I laughed a lot which is what comedy is about. I just don’t like it as much as the original.

MY SCORE: 6.5/10

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