Tuesday, May 31, 2011

The Hangover II review, new jokes make up for a repeat formula

It's already been two years?  Holy wow, I can't believe how time flies!  In 2009, The Hangover became the highest grossing R-rated comedy of all time.  Rightfully so.  With a blend of unique characters, a funny premise, and shock value to boot; it was a homerun.  It catapulted Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms and Zach Galifianakis to stardom.  And it proved director Todd Phillips was a someone with longevity in this business.

The first movie followed the three main characters as they tried to find their lost friend after a night they couldn't remember.  The movie took place in Las Vegas and the city was a great backdrop to the story being told.  This time around, the "Wolfpack" finds themselves in a similar situation, only this time, they've lost a friend in Bangkok, Thailand.  Oh no... The Hangover II.

What I liked about the film:
The Wolfpack (including the monkey)
This is an obvious one.  Cooper, Helms and Galifianakis have an unbelievable chemistry together.  The three actors feed and play off of each other so well, they're totally believable in their roles.

Galifianakis steals most of the scenes again, as he did in the first film.  Helms plays the paranoid panic attack very well.  And the contrast to Helms is Bradley Cooper, who never seems to get phased by anything.  Ken Jeong and Paul Giamatti round out some great supporting characters as well.  And don't forget about the much talked about monkey.  Baby Carlos has NOTHING on the cigarette smoking, drug dealing monkey in the sequel.  It was cleverly worked into the film and actually served a purpose in the plot.  Great!

The setting
Vegas was a great place to setup the last film.  It just made sense for the guys to wake up in their hotel room, not remembering much.  This time, they pushed the envelope.  Thailand is so visually busy, the movie will need a second viewing to catch everything.  Tying in Jeong's character into the setting was great.  Watching the movie, you got a real sense of how difficult it was for the cast and crew to work in such busy conditions.  I've read interviews with director, Phillips, where he says it was his most difficult shoot to date.

The one-liners, memorable
I hate when I go to a movie and leave not recalling a thing.  That wasn't the case with this film.  My wife and I left the theater repeating one-liner after the other.  I am well aware of all the criticisms of the film being identical to the first (I'll get to that in a minute), but the movie is very memorable and will hold up against a lot of other comedies out there.

What I didn't like about the film:
I find myself disliking a lot of film sub-plots.  It's because it feels like the movie wouldn't have suffered if they took it out completely.  Without giving anything away, the sub-plot involves Jeong and Giamatti's characters.  The writers used it as a device to take the main characters from one place to the next, but once the sub-plot is revealed in full, there's no pay off.  I didn't like it and wished they would have written it out of the movie.

The Verdict:
Loved it, KNOWING what I was walking into
I think people just wanted to hate the film.  "It's exactly like the first one."  "They couldn't have thought of anything better?"  Interesting how you weren't criticizing the movie while laughing so hard I couldn't hear the dialogue.  Look, the first trailer showed us all that it was going to have the EXACT same format as the first film.  So I knew what I was getting myself into and was very content with it.  To me, it was fresh and funny in ways the first one wasn't; and it was enough to satisfy my hunger for another grown-up comedy after Bridesmaids.  Check out The Hangover II, you will not be disappointed!

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