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Monday, October 1, 2012

The Hangover II (2011) - Let's Do it Again, in Thailand

Two years after the bachelor party in Las Vegas chronicled in "The Hangover," Phil, Stu, Alan, and Doug jet to Thailand for Stu's wedding. Stu's plans for a relaxed pre-wedding brunch, however, go seriously awry.

The same group of guys from the first film go through exactly the same process as in the original film.  During production, the film got lots of free publicity due to the casting and re-casting of a minor supporting role, that of "Tatoo Joe," which originally was to have been filled by Mel Gibson.  It's amazing that he would stoop to doing such a bit part, but even that was denied to him because the new holders of power in Hollywood decided that he was not worthy.  The part then was re-cast, and re-cast yet again.  The jobs of the leads were all secure, of course.

Stu is getting married. He invites Doug, Phil, his soon-to-be brother-in-law Teddy, and Alan to Thailand for the wedding.  He knows Alan is trouble, but brings him along anyway.  Just like in the first film, the friends wake up to vastly changed circumstances.  After a quiet night on the beach with a beer and toasting marshmallows by the camp fire, everything changes.  Stu, Alan and Phil wake up in a seedy apartment in Bangkok. Doug is back at the resort, but Teddy is missing.  They suddenly have a monkey with a severed finger, Alan's head is shaved, Stu has a tattoo on his face, and, of course, nobody has any clue what happened.  The friends retrace their steps through strip clubs, tattoo parlors and cocaine-dealing monkeys on the streets of Bangkok.  They must find Teddy before the wedding.

In "The Hangover," there were chickens and Mike Tyson's tiger.  Here we have cocaine-dealing monkeys.  We have the same group of barely civilized lunkheads designed to make the viewer feel at ease.

If you are looking for something new in this film, you will be sadly mistaken.  Just about everyone returns, even Mike Tyson, with the mysterious absence of Heather Graham.  It is almost a scene-by-scene recreation of the original.  The producers found a formula that works, and they are sticking with it.  Do you go back to McDonald's time and time again?  Or Walmart?  Or Sears?  It's the same idea.  Here, you are sort of brought along and made friends for an hour or so with ordinary people like you who get thrust into a weird situation and have to work their way out.  You might as well be sitting in the chair next to them, trying to piece it all together.

If you don't like a film such as this, you probably actually have taste in films.  Saying you don't, though, opens you up to looking like a social outcast who stubbornly doesn't want to just be friends with this cool group of guys.  What's not to like about them, you may well ask.  Nothing, just as there is nothing not to like about McDonald's, or Walmart, or Sears.  They serve a purpose, satisfy a momentary desire, and that is why they exist.

It was better the first time around, when it was "fresh."  Is that surprising?  The act is wearing thin.  But once again, you get a chance to walk through airports, go up and down elevators or escalators, and ride in cars and boats with your "friends" while the film wends its way to its inevitable conclusion.  Is that what you want?  If so, then see this film.

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