The Hangover: Part II

31 May

Title: The Hangover: Part II
Year: 
2011
Director: 
Todd Phillips
Writers: Craig Mazin, Scot Armstrong and Todd Phillips, based on the characters by Jon Lucas and Scott Moore
Starring: 
Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms, Zach Galifianakis, Justin Bartha, Ken Jeong, Jamie Chung, Paul Giamatti, Bryan Callen, Mason Lee
MPAA Rating: 
R, pervasive language, strong sexual content including graphic nudity, drug use and brief violent images
Runtime: 
102 min
Major Awards: –

IMDb Rating: 
7.1
Rotten Tomatoes: 
35%

 

I went to see The Hangover: Part II on Saturday, and I left the theater with mixed feelings, to say the least. But before I talk about this one, let me rewind things a couple years back, when on June 5th, 2009 The Hangover opened. Right now we know the impact that film had on 2009’s film year, but during that weekend it was just a $35 million budget R-rated comedy starring a Bradley Cooper that wasn’t one of Hollywood’s finest leading men like he is now, but was instead a guy known for supporting roles in stuff like Wedding Crashers and Failure to Launch and for his role in the TV series Alias, it also starred an Ed Helms that was known exclusively because of his work in The Office, and it starred a largely-unknown heavy-set guy with a weird last name and a thick beard.

That weekend that film would have to face off against Land of the Lost, a film that came with a loftier and flashier $100 million budget and the tremendous starpower of Will Ferrell. But we now know how it all turned out, not only was Land of the Lost a colossal disaster, making less than $70 million at the box office, but The Hangover grossed over $100 million in its first ten days in release thanks to great critical reception and terrific word of mouth despite the lack of starpower. And it set new records on the way to becoming the tenth highest grossing movie of the year, too. It ended its theatrical run with a worldwide gross of over $465 million, making it the highest grossing R-rated comedy of all-time, and the third highest grossing R-rated film of all-time behind just The Passion of the Christ and The Matrix Reloaded. Not to mention that it got Mr. Cooper the fame he deserved as one of Hollywood’s most reliable new leading men, it got Mr. Helms fame outside of television, and it made Zach Galifianakis’ last name one on everyone’s lips, establishing himself quickly and surely as one of the most hilarious guys around, and with good reason.

Now, personally, I, much like the rest of the world, fell in love with The Hangover, giving it a solid A grade and ranking it as my 17th favorite film of all 2009. So it’s fair to say I was desperately looking forward to see what the guys did now in their second go-round, with the added pressure of a hit to succeed and actually having fame and expectations attached to their names. And, honestly, the result was definitely far from impressive, and while I still liked The Hangover: Part II a fair bit and think it’s a solid comedy, I definitely consider it to be somewhat of a disappointment.

And the reason for my disappointment is that when The Hangover came to us in 2009 we all loved it because it was a no-holds-barred comedy that felt extremely fresh and original. And this time around director Todd Phillips trying too hard to recreate that level of success made a cookie-cutter copy of the first one, and made this one seem like a safe imitation of its predecessor, not really doing anything new to break from the formula imposed just two years ago. And yes, it’s a fantastic formula to follow because the first one was extremely good, but at least some sort of variations should have been added. This one is just more of the same, and has me thinking that Blu-Ray’s and DVD’s of the original The Hangover should now come with a sticker that say it’s a spoiler for the sequel, because everything is just the same. And I do realize they tried to do more “edgy” and “outrageous” things in this one, and they do, but they happen in a situation firmly established by the first one and, moreover, when those more risky things happened I actually felt as though the film was dabbling in a territory that I thought was a bit too dark and uncomfortable for this film to be in.

Seriously, I won’t spoil the moments in question for you here because that’s for you to watch and judge, but I really do think that when The Hangover: Part II tried to up the ante with the first one, which wouldn’t have been necessary in the first place had it been its own film from the beginning, it went to places that seemed too dark and weird at times for this film, and that took away that sense of joy the first one had so much of. Now, I realize this all seems like I’m dissing this sequel, when in reality the film itself is perfectly fine and I’m sure many people will enjoy it, it’s just that it’s nowhere as good or memorable as the first one, and I wanted for it so badly to meet my expectations.

In this one it’s Stu’s turn to get married, so we see Mr. Helms being totally perfect at playing the guy who just wants to get married to this great girl he met after his horrible relationship broke off after that last disastrous weekend in Vegas, and wants to do it with no bachelor parties, no roofies, no Mike Tyson’s, just a plain normal wedding. But we obviously know that won’t be the case, and of course Vegas couldn’t be the locale because they had to draw the line as to just how much they could carbon-cope the first one, so the wedding has to be in Thailand because Stu’s in-law’s-to-be live there and want to throw the bride and groom (who the dad doesn’t really approve of) a traditional wedding there.

And while they obviously fail at their attempts to mimic the first one in order to recapture its freshness, this one responds with amping up the raunch factor which gets quite a few great jokes here and there and help make this one what it is. Not to mention that Ken Jeong gets a bigger role after breaking out big with the first film, which was good to see. But you can’t help but think that the guys behind this one just though that more of the same but with more money and more crazy locations and situations would mean more fun, and it really doesn’t, it just stays at “more of the same”. Fortunately, what we got in the first The Hangover was pretty exquisite, so the second servings we get here are still totally enjoyable, though less of a novelty great taste we had never had before like the first one was, but if they go for a third one (and the superb box office returns for this one’s first weekend would seem to indicate they will) then I suggest altering an ingredient or two in the recipe.

Grade: B

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