Friday, 27 May 2011

Film Review: The Hangover Part II

The Hangover part 1 became something of sleeper hit when it was released in 2009. Ever since we've been wanting more of 'the wolfpack', and writer and director Todd Phillips has duly delivered. In the interim, we had to put up with the frankly awful Due Date, which promised to be as good, but failed to deliver on every level. However, Todd's redemption would be consummated if the The Hangover Part II proved to be a return to form...

The plot is much the same as the first. Phil (Cooper), Stu (Helms) and Alan (Galifianakis) awake in a hotel room unable to recall the previous night's events. The only differences are that instead of Las Vegas, they're now in Thailand, instead of it being Doug's (Bartha) wedding, it's now Stu's, and instead of Doug having gone missing, it is Stu's fiance's brother, Teddy (Lee). And so the wolfpack must follow a shattered path of monks and monkeys in order to find Teddy before the big day is ruined.

They say that if it ain't broke, then don't fix it, and there is a degree of truth to this statement. But by the same token it doesn't allow any innovation or creativity, which is the problem with The Hangover Part II. It is quite literally an exact copy of the first film, only in another country. The first time round the formula worked a charm. It was something refreshing and different, cleverly arranging a dumb comedy about a stag night that omits all the 'good stuff' about the night itself and assembles the specifics in memento style flashbacks. One would think that by relocating to the one place on Earth more seedier than Sin City, Bangkok, there would be a wealth more of material to do something different. Rather than using this, Phillips has gone for an exact replication of the first film. In The Hangover each successive event was more audacious than the last which brought surprise and ensuing hilarity. But instead of trying something different, Phillips attempts to copy and paste each scene from the first movie in like for like fashion. While everything is 'bigger', in some feigned vain to make the film more epic, none of it is really an as enjoyable 'WTF' moment as in the first film. Indeed, a lot of it feels padded, especially one story arc involving Paul Giamatti which is particularly devoid of laughs.

All the elements that worked in The Hangover Part II's predecessor, including the characters, have been ramped up a notch to 'just insane'. Where in the first film we found sympathy and charm in Alan, in Part II he has purposely been made more retarded to the point where you almost start to wince. Indeed, Galifianakis' niche as a socially challenged slob is beginning to become tired, fast. While the roles of Phil and Stu as anchoring character and 'the guy all the crazy shit happens to' respectively haven't really evolved, there are two new additions which do add something a bit new. The first is a drug dealing monkey who smokes and acts like people, but it is Ken Jeong's Mr. Chow, endowed with a much larger role, who gets most of the laughs this time out.

The Hangover Part II is essentially more Kanye West, more nudity, more gross outs, but above all, more of the same. And it is because having seen it all before that it is not as funny or original. If you want more of the same then ye shall receive, but it is ultimately disappointing that it shies away from even trying to improve upon the first.