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Review: One more round with ‘Hangover’
REVIEW BY BURL BURLINGAME / firstname.lastname@example.org
Been there, done that. But it’s never as much fun as the first time around. Which pretty much sums up “The Hangover Part II.”
Ah, notice that the studio calls the film “Part II,” as if there’s a continuity with the plot of the first film, and we’re treated to the latest chapter. That’s not the case. It’s more like “The Hangover Mirror Image” or “The Hangover Redux” or “The Hangover Xeroxed,” or maybe “The Hangover Electric Boogaloo — Louder, Weaker, Less Surprising But More Bangkokier.”
Sequels to monster hits are a no-brainer. It’s money in the bank. The downside is that they’ll always be compared to the originals rather than evaluated on their own merits. The original “The Hangover” was an adult comedy constructed around an elaborate and possibly dangerous mystery, and was quite brilliant in the way it manipulated fear and guilt into hilarious excess.
Once again, unlikely pals Phil (Bradley Cooper) and Stu (Ed Helms) and Doug (Justin Bertha) get together for a bachelor debauch just before upcoming nuptials, with passive-aggressive child-man Alan (Zach Galifianakis) tagging along. Once again, they awaken in a trashed hotel room with no clue what happened the night before, even though THIS time they were being careful not to drink too much. And THIS time they’ve also lost the younger brother of the bride, although they find his finger in a glass of water. And what’s that thing poking out from under the sheets …
And once again, Doug is relegated to the Guy Answering Phone job, so he and the hungoverees can yell bits of plot exposition.
And once again, gangsta wannabee Mr. Chow (the dependably hilarious Ken Jeong) pops up at inconvenient times.
And once again, the characters move through a cruddy haze as they try to piece things together, and this invariably leads them back to people they really don’t want to know and situations they’d rather do without.
The line “I can’t believe this is happening again!” is used way too many times.
The bottom line, however, is — is the sequel funny? Yes. Although the pleasure of the first film was in the unexpected gasps of over-the-top embarrassments. If you laughed your butt off in the first film, you’ll laugh half your butt off here, and even that generally worth the price of admission these days. It’s exactly the movie the filmmakers set out to make, so they can be faulted only for lack of vision on their part and lack of expectation on our part. There are no surprises here, which would be all right if the characters had moved on into a new adventure instead of a carbon copy. It’s hard to feel empathy for people who don’t learn.
On a technical level, “The Hangover Part II” is gorgeously photographed, with equal care given to Thailand’s scenic beauty and Bangkok’s gritty, steamy squalor. It looks genuinely hot and dangerous. There’s also a superb car chase and a monkey who smokes cigarettes.