Sunday, 29 May 2011

REVIEW: The Hangover: Part II

Dir.: Todd Phillips
With: Ed Helms, Bradley Cooper, Zach Galifianakis et al

Let us forget for a moment how lucrative sequels have become and think about the actual point of continuing an otherwise complete and successful film. Obviously, if a film was adapted from a novel and the novel has a second part, it makes absolute sense to do the same with the film – e.g. “The Godfather” and “The Lord of the Rings”. Sometimes, if a film does not have one clear conclusion and there are many unresolved issues, a sequel comes naturally – “The Matrix Reloaded” and “Before Sunset”. And there are also the times when the first movie seems completed but the characters become so universally adored and the film is considered to be so innovative that the creators end up scratching their heads and decide to extend the characters’ arcs into a new movie; and on certain precious occasions the results are extremely successful – “The Ghostbusters 2” and “Shrek 2”.

Alas, “The Hangover: Part II” is no such sequel. The whole film can be described by two words – déjà vu. It is unbelievably formulaic and self-referential. Todd Phillips and Co chose not to re-invent the wheel and stuck to the well-trodden path of the Vegas version. The lack of imagination involved in writing this film is simply astounding; in a way it reminds me of the third “Sex and the City” movie where the women were moved to Abu Dhabi with nothing concrete to run on. Similarly, here the wolfpack is transported to Bangkok with exactly the same tricks up their sleeve. The jokes involving ladyboys, ping-pong party tricks and tattoos are so generic that it feels like the writers could not even bother to think of something less obvious and more surprising.

At the same time, it was definitely a pleasure to see the great characters of Phil, Stu, Alan and Mr Chow back on the screen. In the first film I thought that Stu was the funniest one, this time, his teeth intact, he seemed pale in comparison to Alan and Mr Chow's inspired performances. There were a couple of good scenes like the painful awakening, the car chase and Alan’s flashback featuring little boys as the title characters. Everything else, including the photos in the end of the movie, seemed like a re-imagining of the first film. To be perfectly honest, this doesn’t really deserve to be called a sequel because it doesn’t add anything to the story; it should rather be called a remake with the original cast. I suppose, if you’ve never seen the first film, this version would appear shockingly hilarious to you. I did laugh every now and then, but ended up with a very unpleasant aftertaste, the kind you get when you watch your favourite band live only to find out that they really suck. Although, a few people in the audience did clap after the movie was over, so maybe I am just sour and have no sense of humour… Also, there was so much product placement in this film, it was becoming quite amusing; bags, phones, cars, alcohol – the cheerful labels were smiling and waving at me from the screen, more enthusiastically than the ill-fated wolfpack themselves. These are dark times we live in, ladies and gentlemen.

There was much speculation about a surprise cameo by an unexpected guest, Mel Gibson, Liam Neeson and Bill Clinton were cited as potential candidates. But even here “The Hangover: Part II” fails to surprise and sticks to its already known guest star – Mike Tyson, sorry for spoiling the surprise (NOT). Apparently, a third film is in the works. I guess this time the boys will go to Eastern Europe (I can’t think of anywhere else that has a dodgy reputation), because Alan will travel there to meet his mail-order bride before actually ordering her, they will get drunk on some home-made spirit, wake up in a barn in Albania, Stu will be sporting pierced tongue and nipples and they’ll have to remember where they left Mr Chow (he’d come along too, it doesn’t really matter why).

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