Tuesday, 31 May 2011

THE HANGOVER PART II (2010) - 3 STARS

'Bangkok Has Them Now'
 
 
Recently on my blog, I've been constructing film lists to try and make this site more imaginative with both reviews and lists, but last night I got the chance to watch the eagerly awaited sequel to one of the most popular comedies in recent film (incidentally my first trip to the flicks since PAUL) in the shape of THE HANGOVER PART II. After making big bucks with the original film in 2009 which won the Best Comedy-Musical category at the Golden Globes, director/writer Todd Phillips decided to follow it up with a OKish sequel that tries new ideas with a change of setting that allows us to embrace the new surroundings that face the 'three best friends' as they find themselves in a familiar situation....


Following the events of the first film, the four main guys of Phil (Bradley Cooper), Stu (Ed Helms), Alan (Zach Galifianakis) and Doug (Justin Bartha) are reunited again, this time with Stu being the lucky groom who is all set to marry his beautiful fiancee Lauren (Jamie Cheung) in her home country of Thailand. Again like the first film, the wolfpack decide to mark the occasion with another night out accompanied this time by Lauren's younger brother Teddy (Mason Lee). However the next morning, Phil, Stu and Alan find themselves back to an all too-familiar predicament from the Vegas nightmare, this time waking up hungover in a seedy apartment somewhere in Bangkok with embarrassing factors making things worse e.g. Stu having a tattoo done on his face and Alan having his hair shaved off. This time though, Doug is safe and sound back at the resort but Teddy is the one who has ended up missing following the night out, and once again the guys face the prospect of searching everywhere to find a missing friend but this time in a different city and culture. Along the way, they bump into Asian gangster Mr Chow (Ken Jeong) again who becomes important to the guys this time round, a drug-dealing monkey who accompanies them around Bangkok and the evidence of that night becomes apparent thanks to the help of monks, tattoo artists, Russian gangsters and ....strippers which leaves the boys appalled that lightening has struck twice. Can they succeed again with finding their friend or has Bangkok got him now?....


Most people thought it bizarre to think The Hangover should warrant a sequel and that does seem the case here, but for this section, the positives come first as always. Phillips did a good job in bringing back most of the original cast members from the first film and it is obvious that work so well together. Bradley Cooper is the strong lead and the anchor in this raucous comedy. He is not asked to be funny; he is charmingly fun. Ed Helms is brilliant as the butt of the jokes, and he does this with natural grace and is becoming the more popular character with audiences as re-watches of this and the first film help that. Zach Galifianakis returns annoyingly as dysfunctional Alan. He is just as idiotic and random as he was in the first film and even becomes more cynical in this one with his surprise jealousy of Teddy's involvement with the group. However, he has a good heart, if misguided and ultimately, brotherhood and friendship underlies and comes full circle in this sequel, much like the original as we, the audience pull for them, because they pull for each other. Even Justin Bartha's Doug gets respect despite being merely the calm figure of the pack who never gets involved in this ridiculous events. With regards to the story, some of the predicaments the guys face are just as hilarious and shocking, especially with the culture change and gives us a chance to explore the beauty of the country and yet also help us accompany the hapless trio on their desperate search with bigger surroundings. Poor Stu suffers the most again, not just with the tattoo but yet another woman complicates matters for him, the reveal of that particular moment is grotesque just thinking about it, but that's the genius of what makes The Hangover films popular.


There are quite a few negative points to take for a film I've awarded 3 stars but this mostly from the fact that if you saw and loved the first one, then you'll be disappointed to find this edition almost copying ideas from its original classic. Things play out with the same elements as the original. Instead of a tiger we have a monkey. Instead of a baby we have a monk. Instead of a regular Las Vegas hooker we have, well... I won't spoil that. It's like watching the Dads Army film which basically rehashed ideas from the story-lines of the first series, though Hangover is completely different, it's the same idea. Most of the supporting cast are disappointing with Mason Lee's Teddy having not much to do except disappear for 2/3's of the film, and being nowhere near as sympathetic as Doug. Ken Jeong's Mr. Chow gets a bigger role this time around, but being much more annoying, while cameos from Nick Cavessetes, Paul Giamatti and (rather desperately) Mike Tyson fail to really add much to this film. You will most likely have a good time watching this if you enjoyed the first one. That being said, it will feel exactly like the original, except it's in Bangkok and the setting is much darker. It certainly doesn't  come close to the first film though as much as I laughed during it, I really can't think of it as more than just another comedy. However it is great to see the wolfpack together again at least!

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