Tuesday, 14 June 2011

The Hangover Part II (2011)

The boys are back.

Image: Warner Bros.

Off the back of the phenomenal success of The Hangover, a sequel was inevitable. The reports of the production focused on the controversial hiring then firing of Mel Gibson for a cameo. But that was never really the issue. The issue was: could they capture lightning in a bottle twice?

Stu (Ed Helms) is marrying the beautiful, understanding Lauren (Jamie Chung) in Thailand. He invites Phil (Bradley Cooper) and Doug (Justin Bartha), and, reluctantly, Alan (Zach Galifaniakis). Stu wants no repeat of what happened in Vegas for Doug’s bachelor party, but after agreeing to one drink on the beach, he, Phil and Alan wake up in Bangkok. Doug’s back at the hotel, but Lauren’s brother Teddy (Mason Lee) is missing, and his finger’s in a bowl of melted ice....

Whether it’s to their credit or not, the filmmakers know that they’re putting the characters through the exact same paces as they did in Vegas. It’s not like the characters have changed or grown in the two years since the previous film.

That said, the setting of Bangkok allows the writers and Phillips to really explore the characters dark sides. While the first was a breakout for Galifianakis, the focus here is on Helms’ Stu, and the actor delivers a hilarious performance. It’s his bachelor party, and his life to screw up, his mistakes to make. And he makes a lot of them. As Stu moves ever closer to a nervous breakdown, he’s the only character who seems to have any development. But still not that much. As for the rest of the wolf pack, Cooper looks like he’s having fun while Galifianakis does the same schtick again, with diminished results from familiarity.

There’s not really a lot to say about The Hangover Part II. If you liked the first one, you’ll probably enjoy this, but not as much. Did you like Ken Jeong’s Chinese crime boss? He’s got more screen time. Did you find the baby funny? There’s a monkey here instead. Did you think Jeffrey Tambor was wasted? He’s got even less screen time. Still, at least Paul Giamatti livens things up a bit. There’s some nicely dark humour, but there’s never really the sense that things will go too horribly wrong for our heroes. The film is funniest when the characters realise that something is wrong with them, that they keep making the same mistakes.  If, as is more than likely, they do end up making a third instalment, could we have more of the darkness and less of the monkey?

Enjoyable enough. 

3/5

JH 

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