Film Review: The Hangover Part II

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Copy cat

(The Hangover: Part II, Todd Phillips, US, 2011, 102 mins)

[Warning: A fair few spoilers]

The disappointing part of the matter is, Phillips may be back with what was a highly anticipated sequel to The Hangover (2009), but it only gave me a headache. With so many references to the previous film, you’re bound to feel left out of the ‘Wolfpack’ if you haven’t seen the original.

Travelling to Thailand for Stu’s (Ed Helms) wedding to Lauren (Jamie Chung), Phil (Bradley Cooper), Alan (Zach Galifianakis) and Doug (Justin Bartha) are back together, but definitely not looking to get drunk. The story begins, and the last we see of the boys and Lauren’s brother Teddy (Mason Lee) are around a campfire on the beach. As expected from writers Jon Lucas and Scott Moore who worked on the characters in the first film, they reach out for every opportunity to provide a reminiscent feeling of excitement and confusion that was found in Vegas. These actors have established their ability to work well together, and their characters are constantly clashing from their differing personalities. It was the structure of the narrative that made that film so gripping; starting off with a quiet drink, and then with the blink of an eye and some very fast forwarded shots of the location from night to morning, the boys are piecing their night back together with one of them missing. It wouldn’t have been the same if this layout had not have been used yet again, however it was the ‘piecing together’ that was the only entertaining part.

Unfortunately for Doug, he once more doesn’t get a look in on the action, and instead takes the back seat with his wife Tracy (Sasha Barrese) of covering up for the trio in trouble. It is a shame, as this film is certainly Stu’s film, and it seems unfair that he does not miss out on the action as groom-to-be. He has come a long way since his first wife Melissa (Rachael Harris), the controlling, irrational, and stubborn bitch that disapproved of all Stu’s actions. Nevertheless, we are still left with unanswered questions about Jade (Heather Graham), the hooker that Stu married by accident in the last film and proposes that they have a date at the end to start afresh. Stu’s impatience combined with his need to act responsible do make a few of the gags still funny, but it does feel like with the success of The Hangover, in which Alan was a clear hit for audiences, that the characters are being constantly made to do something idiotic, with the assumption that all audiences know them so well already. Zach Galifianakis makes Alan delightful yet again; acting like a spoilt child and having his mother waiting on him, “I guess we don’t do desert anymore. I didn’t get that memo.”, and generally imitating Phil, who is sarcastic as ever. In addition to this, the welcomed presence of Mr Chow (Ken Jeong), who is now best friends with Alan instead of trying to kill the boys, brings some reassurance and amusing one liners which bring back the fun we knew from the first film.

Even the cameos in this film are disappointing; the rumours of Liam Neeson playing a tattoo artist are discarded as Nick Cassavetes (Director of The Notebook, 2004) takes over the role, and the anticipation of the singer at Stu’s wedding, when he finally gets there, is such a let-down that it suggests Phillips was really scraping the barrel. When panic strikes and the momentum gets going, the situation is over in seconds, the bad guys have vanished, and the car chase has ended. The opening sequence is the same style, shot after shot of a busy Bangkok, with a few picturesque shots of the landscape, partnered with Mark Lanegan’s “The Beast in Me”. There is also some more Kanye West in the form of “Stronger”, and even the end is the same, with a slideshow of photos from the night to accompany the credits which the boys agree to delete once again. Up for debate is The Hangover Part III, as it could consequently mean a lack of pennies at the box office.  Phillips and writers Craig Mazin and Scot Armstrong may have to come up with some really disgusting ordeals to reel the fans back in again. The notion to put these characters in really gritty, scary situations appears to be there, but needs some more emphasis. Mr Chow may have had a “sick night, bitches!” but I sure didn’t.

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