Hangover Part II

The Hangover Part II

Director: Todd Phillips
Starring: Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms, Zach Galifianakis and Justin Bartha.
Distributor: Roadshow Films
Runtime: 95 mins. Reviewed in Nov 2011
| JustWatch |
Rating notes: Strong sexual references, nudity, coarse language and drug use

Not a sequel, the title declares, it is just part 2 where, as the characters keep reminding us, it is happening all over again. But, this time in Bangkok.

We know what to expect and, according to the huge box office returns during the first week of release, millions were keyed up expecting it.

One of the main features of the original Hangover was that, despite its raucous humour, language and episodes, it was able to be funny about it all and draw in its viewers, maybe despite themselves (which was certainly the case with this reviewer). So, that something to draw us in and share the humour was what I was expecting. But, I didn’t find it. Yes, a couple of laughs, but this time the central characters seemed more crass than before. Admittedly, they were given some lines to make them sound a bit better at the end, but not enough, and they didn’t really ring true. The trouble with the missing humour and human touch is that the characters and situations seem more tiresome and, often, irritating.

Bradley Cooper can do charm in other films but here he is basically a self-centred lout at heart who is responsible for starting the mayhem – and when he gets shot in the arm, I was all for the gangsters who were firing and, when he was being beaten by the Buddhist monk with a large bamboo rod for breaking the silence in the monastery, there was a temptation to draw on the immortal words of the Bloke in C.J.Dennis’ classic poem-yarn, The Sentimental Bloke, ‘Put in the boot…!’.

Zach Galifianakis can do dim-witted funny, which is what he is required to do here. There is some suspense and humour in wondering what terrible gaffe he is going to do next. But, without the more subtle underlying humour, he comes off as an annoying dolt (which he is to the characters in the film most of the time).

I had a few hopes for dentist Stu (Ed Helms) the bridegroom last time. It seems that a quickie marriage in Las Vegas was a big mistake (and it was) so now, for travelogue and location purposes (and Thailand does come off touristically well during most of the film – forget the dingy clubs), he is engaged to a Thai girl. Hence the trip. Hence the night out. Hence the hangover – and re-meeting Ken Jeong’s Mr Chow who for some of the film was, relievedly, dead. But, no such luck… There is also the brother of the bride, Teddy (Mason Lee, the son of Ang Lee for the record) a sixteen year old medical and musical genius studying at Stanford who, for no apparent reason except for a plot device to find him, loses a finger. Which seemed more than unnecessary and drastic. He is also hung over. He seems a nice chap and deserves a better fate.

The Paul Giamatti turns up as an international gangster – and most will enjoy the plot twist that he unexpectedly provides.

The scenery is wonderful but, as mentioned, there is a lot of time in some of the less salubrious parts of Bangkok. Speaking of salubrious, who should turn up to sing the final song! Mike Tyson.

Obviously, a lot of people will enjoy this hangover episode, but it relies too much on its original appeal and not enough on doing something better with it. Perhaps one reviewer was right: if you would like a laugh like this, watch the original again.

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