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Written by: Scot Armstrong, Craig Mazin and Todd Phillips

Directed by: Todd Phillips

Starring: Bradley Cooper, Zack Galifianakis, Ed Helms, Ken Jeong, Justin Bartha, Jamie Chung, Mike Tyson, Paul Giamatti, Jeffrey Tambor

 

I had really high hopes for The Hangover: Part II.  Well, that’s not true but I was really hoping I was wrong about what I was expecting. I’ve mentioned before that I loved Todd Phillips’ The Hangover (2009) , and I don’t subscribe to the belief that sequels are inherently bad.  It’s just that  Phillips doesn’t seem to know what made the first film so good.

In this film, Stu (Ed Helms) is getting married in Thailand and his buddies Phil (Bradley Cooper), Alan (Zack Galifianakis) and Doug (Justin Bartha) fly there to attend the wedding. A night that was supposed to be just one drink turns ugly and Alan, Stu and Phil wake up the next morning in a filthy Bangkok hotel room, they can’t remember what they’ve done, they don’t know where they are and someone is missing. They have a monkey in a Rolling Stone’s denim vest and Mr. Chow (Ken Jeong) is inexplicably asleep on the floor. They’ve got one day until the wedding, a missing person to find and a whole lot of ‘splainin’ to do.  Without missing a beat, this movie fulfills the exact same plot arc as the previous film, except they are stuck with a monkey instead of a baby and have swapped the glamour of Las Vegas for the grimy filth of Bangkok.

Sure, I laughed during The Hangover: Part II, I laughed a lot more than expected… but the movie is missing something. Or perhaps it’s the opposite, perhaps the movie is bloated. The character of Alan was the highlight of the original, and the same is true here, but it seems as though Phillips wanted to make sure this film had even more of what people loved about the first Hangover film. There’s a lot of Alan in this movie, and the overexposure spoils the character a little bit. The same goes for the character of Mr. Chow, who was hilarious in the first film as he screeched goofy lines but in this film the attempt to make him a full character falls completely flat and there are times that Jeong seems to be struggling to make the character’s weird voice believable as he carries on entire conversations.

I was impressed, however, at the way the filmmakers were able to change the tone of this film to abandon some of the racist and homophobic humour of the first film. In Part II, it is rather clear that while the characters may be homophobic and mildly racist, the film tends to make them the target of the joke for being that way rather than blatantly poking fun at homosexuals and Asian people. This, I think, is a commendable step for this sort of film.

I have to be fair and say that I had fun watching The Hangover: Part II, it was a good time at the theatre and I enjoyed myself, but the film amounts to nothing more than a fun, dumb comedy. The talented cast seem to struggle with weak material, and Phillips exposes his own incompetence. I had really been wishing for some of the heart of the first film, but in all honesty this could have been a great deal worse.

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