Mark Reviews Movies

The Hangover: Part II


1 Star (out of 4)

Director: Todd Phillips

Cast: Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms, Zach Galifianakis, Justin Bertha, Ken Jeong, Jamie Chung, Mason Lee, Nirut Sirichanya, Sasha Barrese, Paul Giamatti

MPAA Rating: R (for pervasive language, strong sexual content including graphic nudity, drug use and brief violent images)

Running Time: 1:42

Release Date: 5/26/11

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Review by Mark Dujsik | May 25, 2011

Flying in the face of common sense, The Hangover Part II cries out, "If it's broken, we're going to keep using it." There was little the original movie could do with its premise of taking three wholly unlikeable characters, who only vary in the degree of how despicable they are, and letting them run wild, and there's even less that the sequel does with them.

This is not so much a sequel as it is a second version of its predecessor. "I can't believe this is happening again," one of the trio of obnoxious antiheroes bemoans (One of multiple instances in which a character states as much) in the middle of attempting to recall the memory of a lost night of excessive partying due to inadvertently-but-intentionally being drugged. This time, the setting changes from Las Vegas to Bangkok, a city that, by all accounts in the movie, takes a lot of people who are never seen again, and so we keep hoping such will be the fate of these three guys.

A small factor in the movie's favor is that the screenplay by Craig Mazin, Scot Armstrong, and director Todd Phillips spends less time actively making Phil (Bradley Cooper), Stu (Ed Helms), and Alan (Zach Galifianakis) into deplorable people before their misadventures begin, but then again, the memory of their personality traits, ranging from pathetic sob to outright misanthrope, is hard to dismiss. Phil's hasty reintroduction comes in his attempt to grab a hit of nitrous oxide as Stu finishes a dental exam on his friend. This is before he tries to steal his friend's prescription pad for whatever unspoken but clearly evident problems Phil has. The fact that his wife (Gillian Vigman), just as in the first one, is like an accessory in the screenwriter's minds (She only has one, two-word line on-screen) highlights the inherently misogynistic attitude that's on display through blunt omission.

Stu, meanwhile, is still a spineless pushover, even after the first movie tried to convince us he was beginning to assert himself. He's about to be married again, this time to Lauren (Jamie Chung), who can best be described as the woman Stu is about to marry. Her father (Nirut Sirichanya) despises his soon-to-be son-in-law, making many not-too-subtle digs at him during a toast at the rehearsal dinner (He's like bland rice pudding is the thesis). Stu, having undergone that massive bit of change by the end of the first movie, of course, says nothing about the constant insults, since the screenwriters know nothing about character development. They only know, apparently, about replaying the same beats, meaning Stu once again goes through the exact same change by the end of this movie that he did previously.

Then there's Alan. After being by far the creepiest of the three in the last movie, he somehow comes across as the least reprehensible character this time around (For one thing, there's no reference to him being a registered sex offender in this one). Galifianakis, an oddball comic actor whose occasional non sequitur (His collection of trivia cards about the city rarely comes in handy) or strangely apropos (a man who has a monkey-sized motorcycle helmet with a picture of a banana on it is clearly the owner of a monkey) observations manage to be mildly amusing every so often here, plays Alan more like a lost child than before, and a flashback sequence in which Alan recalls the events of the night takes that characterization literally, as he sees himself and all his friends as though they're 10-year-olds.

After just one movie, we already know the drill: After being unwittingly drugged, the boys awaken from a blackout and have to retrace their steps to find an important participant in the upcoming nuptials (This time it's Stu's future brother-in-law Teddy (Mason Lee)). Phillips has no sense of comic energy, relying instead on the actors ratcheting up their characters' hateful traits to 11. The screenplay is a series of jokes that have no punch lines, such as a visit to a strip club full of transsexual prostitutes where Stu learns he had a new sexual experience the night before, a trip to a Buddhist monastery where one of the monks repeatedly beats them with a stick for talking, and a monkey that does the usual, "funny" monkey business like smoking and dealing cocaine.

While The Hangover Part II doesn't try so hard to make us hate its central characters (That comes naturally anyway), it certainly makes up for it in laziness.

Copyright 2011 by Mark Dujsik. All rights reserved.

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