Happy Funtime Movie Blog

Watching movies is our business, and business is good

Film Review: The Hangover II

on June 4, 2011

For as long as I have been watching movies, I’ve always maintained the same opinions of film sequels, in that I feel that it’s Hollywood’s patented way to ruin a good thing.  I’m sure when the idea for the first ever film sequel came to light it was done out the sheer thought process of, “Hey, we kicked ass on the first movie.  People loved it once, so let’s do it again.  It will be twice as good.”  But it’s this kind of reckless thinking that has left us with such stinkers as Speed 2: Cruise Control, Caddy Shack 2, Dumb and Dumberer: When Harry met Lloyd, both Oceans 12 and 13, and maybe the biggest loogie spit in the face of film lovers everywhere, Blues Brothers 2000 (shame on you Dan Aykroyd).

Before we go any further on this, I am obligated to recognize the only film to not only break the label of bad sequel, but was in fact better than the first film.  In essence this film was the One Ring. One film to rule them all. And that film is, Godfather II, the greatest movie ever made.  And how do I know that Godfather II is the greatest movie/sequel of all time?  Because it’s the only sequel “ever” to win a Best Picture Oscar.  Now what?!?  To quote the scene from the upcoming movie Bad Teacher, “That’s the only argument you got.  THAT’S THE ONLY ARGUMENT I NEED!!!”

Now, I know some of you out there will argue for some of your favorite sequels, protesting how funny they are…..but trust me, you’re wrong.  The truth is, sequels are Hollywood’s way of saying “Fuck You movie goer.  We’re going tell you this is a whole new film, but in reality, we’re going to repackage the same shit we gave you the first time, but just shine it up a bit so it looks brand new.”

That being said, I headed out to see The Hangover II yesterday; the much anticipated sequel to the wildly original and ultra-hilarious 2009’s The Hangover.  I have to admit, even with my bias of sequels, I too had been looking forward to this film ever since it was announced.

The whole gang is back together again.  It’s 2 years later and it’s the nerdy dentist Stu’s (Ed Helms, The Office) turn to get married.  I know what you’re thinking, “Yay, Stu and Jade are going to get married, and baby Carlos will finally have a family.  Vegas here we come again.”  Whoa, not so fast there Skippy!  Actually no, Stu and Jade are no longer together, which means no baby Carlos (sad face), but have no fear, a new miniature sidekick more than makes up for the absence of baby Carlos.  Stu is engaged to a young Asian woman named Lauren (Jamie Chung, Sucker Punch), and the wedding destination is Thailand, or as Alan (Zach Galifianakis, Due Date) calls it, Thigh-Land.

The Wolf Pack wouldn’t be complete without the remaining two members, ultra-nice guy and victim of the last debacle Doug (Justin Bartha, National Treasure), and de facto ring leader, and all around trouble maker Phil (Bradley Cooper, Limitless).

The film opens with a very similar scene from the first film, the guys (Phil, Stu and Alan) looking beat to shit, and at their wits’ end, with Phil making the dreaded phone call saying, “It happened again.”  I found it odd that this call “also” went to Doug’s wife as it did in the first film. She really had nothing to do in this movie, so why her, I have no idea.  But her response of, “What the hell is the matter with you guys,” was a perfect way to start the film.

When we head back a few days prior, we find Stu and Phil debating Stu and Lauren’s choice to have a destination wedding in Bangkok.  Stu pleads with Phil and Doug over breakfast at IHOP that it would mean a lot if they would come to Thailand.  The guys agree, but Doug asks Stu to do him a favor and invite Alan to the wedding too, to which Stu plainly puts it, “No fucking way.”  The conversation hits a snag when Phil and Doug start talking about the bachelor’s party and Doug says that he doesn’t want one (based on what happen the last time).  Phil and Doug do not take the decision well, and to this Doug tells Stu that he owes him then, and has to invite Alan.

Stu breaks and invites Alan to the wedding.  When the gang is all back together at the airport they are joined by Stu’s future brother-in-law Teddy (Mason Lee, son of famed director Ang Lee), a 16 year old prodigy who attends Stanford.  From the moment Teddy shows up Alan is completely jealous.

The gang finally arrives in Thailand where we finally meet Stu’s fiancé, and overbearing soon to be father-in-law.  It’s no shock that the father does not like Stu, and goes out of his way to show him.   We also see that Teddy is the apple of his father’s eye as he dotes over him constantly.

During an awkward rehearsal dinner the future father-in-law compares Stu to a mentally handicapped relative and bland rice called “Joke.”  The dinner was also graced by Alan giving a speech that just makes everybody blush.  At the end of the evening the guys finally convince Stu to have 1 beer with them out on the beach, to which Stu’s fiancé asks him to take Teddy too.  Alan brings a couple of bags of marshmallows to enjoy with his fellow Wolf Pack members, to which the guys clown him mercilessly.  The gang plus Teddy toasts their one beer to Stu.

We next find the gang in a very familiar situation, waking up in a strange place hung over, and wondering what the hell happened.  This time Phil, Alan and Stu have absolutely no idea where they are, and reveal some very disturbing discoveries.  This time they are much more frightening then the tiger in their room from the last movie.  Stu now has a face tattoo, and they find a severed finger with Teddy’s Stanford class ring on it.  They begin to fear the worst about Teddy.  To boot, they also find Mr. Chow (Ken Jeong, Community) sleeping in their room.  They also meet their new sidekick, a spider monkey with a biker jacket.  The gang tries to get the story out of Chow on what happened the night before, as well as clues to where Teddy might be, but before he can tell them what happened he dies from cocaine overdose, or so they think.

Stu, Alan and Phil set off into the heart of Thailand to try and find Teddy, as well as clues as to where they are.  After discovering that they are in Bangkok their adventures takes them to hell and back as they visit the local police, a monastery for monks, a bar that is now burned to the ground  because the guys apparently started a riot the night before and the police burnt the bar down, a tattoo parlor where Stu got his new piece of art, a strip club with transvestite strippers where we get a unexpected revelation about Stu, and gangsters who are looking for Chow and tell the guys that he better show up or else they are going to be held responsible for his debt.

Stu and Phil also finally discover that their lapse in memory is once again Alan’s fault because he spiked the marshmallows with drugs to try and knock out Teddy and ditch him, but he mixed up the bags and drugged everyone.

My take:

The Hangover II is hacky at best.  It’s filled with the same old issues that plague any other sequel.  It is filled with recycled jokes, outrageous scenarios, and when it seems like the writes were at a loss for creativity they just threw some nudity , gay jokes, or over the top antics in to disguise their obvious shortcomings. That being said, I actually liked the Hangover II, for the most part.

Even though the writing was subpar at best, they can still deliver some funny-ass jokes and one-liners.  It just seemed to me that the writing was trying way to hard this go around.  Some jokes fall flat, like when at the pre-dinner party after arriving in Thailand, Alan asks if there are any Long John Silvers in Thailand.  I could almost hear the rim shot in the background.

There was a lot to dislike about the movie too.  Alan and Mr. Chow seem to “always be on.”  They overact at every opportunity.  Also, the tired disapproving Asian father-in-law that eventually comes around, and the whole subplot with the drug-toting monkey side kick, as well as the interaction with Mr. Chow and his “business contacts” are more examples of filler that exposes the lack of creative writing.

But clever execution has a way of elevating even a bland idea.  Though most of the dialogue is hacky at best, the actors still seem to deliver with this sense of self awareness that makes it impossible for you to hold shortcomings against them.

I found the first Hangover film funny and not too over the top.  Typically I like my comedies more sarcastic and smart.  The Hangover II just felt like it was trying to be loud in and in your face, and completely over the top.  But, like I said, there were plenty of parts where the writing hit its mark.

There was one particular example of a smart and “on the sly” joke I really appreciated. It came at the end when the crew does the viewing of the “mysterious pictures from the night before,” just like in the last film.  It appears real quick at the end of the slideshow, and if you don’t know what it is, you’ll pretty much miss it.  Most of the people in the theater with me had no idea what it was.  Bradley Cooper and Ken Jeong do a reenactment of a certain Pulitzer Prized winning photo (involving a young Asian man being shot).  If you don’t know what I’m talking about, then it’s not worth explaining.

I’ve read that there will eventually be a Hangover III.  I pray that is not the case.  But, as far as the Hangover II goes, I recommend you do what I did and see it at a matinee, or wait for DVD.  That way you won’t feel like you got cheated out of your money.

I give this film 3 out of 5 druggie biker monkeys.

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