|"The Hangover Part II" (2011).|
The setup for "The Hangover Part II" (2011), once again directed by Todd Phillips, is simple and straightforward. 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. If you don't know who portrays Phil, Stu, Alan and Doug, go see the original "The Hangover" and get acquainted. For the record, they are played by, respectively: Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms, Zach Galifianakis, and Justin Bartha.
So, the same group of juvenile guys from the first "The Hangover" 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 recasting of a minor supporting role, that of "Tattoo Joe," which originally was to have been filled by Mel Gibson. It's amazing to think that a superstar like Gibson would stoop to doing such a bit part, but even that bit was denied to him because the new holders of power in Hollywood decided that he was not worthy (something about a drunken rant at the side of the road). The Tattoo Joe part then was recast, and recast yet again, with the production team milking this trivial issue like Elsie the Cow. Okay, I know the suspense is incredible, so I will now reveal that Nick Cassavetes ultimately got the part. You're welcome! The jobs of the leads were all secure, of course. Production was a circus, with Bill Clinton, who just happened to be in Bangkok for some reason, stopping by to say hello.
Stu is getting married this time. He invites Doug, Phil, his soon-to-be brother-in-law Teddy, and Alan to Thailand for the wedding. Stu knows that 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 campfire, 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.
If all this sounds familiar, well, you probably saw the first "The Hangover." In "The Hangover," there were chickens and Mike Tyson's tiger. Here we have cocaine-dealing monkeys and Mike Tyson again. Now that's creativity! We have the same group of barely civilized lunkheads designed to make the viewer feel at ease. There are a few familiar faces thrown into the mix, such as Jeffrey Tambor and Paul Giamatti, but basically it is the cast. This is not surprising, because they began working on the sequel before the first "The Hangover" was even released - that is how confident they were that this kind of humor would sell. And they most certainly were right, as this became the highest-grossing R-rated comedy ever.
|Heather Graham is sorely missed in "The Hangover Part II." In fact, "The Hangover" franchise has become incredibly male-oriented by this point, with virtually no women among the leads.|
If you are looking for something new in this film, you will be sadly mistaken. Just about everyone returns, but with the mysterious and most unfortunate 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 Starbucks? It's the same idea here with "The Hangover" franchise. 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 "The Hangover Part II," you probably actually have taste in films. Saying you don't like lowbrow films, 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 trashy gross-out films like "The Hangover Part II," 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. "The Hangover Part II" is another "Animal House" or "Old School" or any number of similar comedies that specialize in smashing pretensions and making everyone look like renegades. Look, I'm not knocking it, the formula works.
It was all better the first time around, when "The Hangover" plot was "fresh." You may feel hugely disappointed if you watch the two "The Hangovers" back-to-back, because it will be like watching the same film in two different settings and spending three hours doing it. Is that surprising, given the state of sequels these days? The "Hangover" act is wearing thin. But once again, you get a chance to walk with our heroes 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. Do you think they will be irreparably changed by their vacation, or will this be a "what happens in (Thailand) stays in (Thailand) deal. If you need the answer to that burning question, then see "The Hangover Part II."