Hangover II Leaves Viewers with a Headache
- Christian Hamaker Contributing Film and Culture Writer
- 2011 26 May
DVD Release Date: December 6, 2011
Theatrical Release Date: May 26, 2011
Rating: R (for pervasive language, strong sexual content including graphic nudity, drug use and brief violent images)
Run Time: 102 min.
Director: Todd Phillips
Actors: Bradley Cooper, Zach Galifianakis, Ed Helms, Jeffrey Tambor, Mike Tyson, Justin Bartha, Ken Jeong, Paul Giamatti, Nick Cassavetes
“It happened again,” a flustered, apologetic Phil (Bradley Cooper) tells his girlfriend over the phone in the first scene in The Hangover Part II. And by “it,” the character refers to pretty much everything from The Hangover. The sequel regurgitates the original movie in nearly every way, from Phil’s phone call explaining his predicament early in the story to the end-credits photo montage picturing the hedonistic excesses of the main characters—Phil, Stu (Ed Helms) and Alan (Zach Galifianakis)—can’t recall.
Creative sequels are the exception to the rule in Hollywood. For every The Empire Strikes Back or The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, there are dozens of Jaws 2s, Psycho IV: The Beginnings and Sex and the City 2s—movies that ride on the coattails of the original stories without expanding those plots in ways that make the effort and expense put into subsequent chapters seem worthwhile.
The Hangover Part II epitomizes the pointless Hollywood sequel. Following director Todd Phillips’ lucrative 2009 comedy hit, this second swing aims for the upper decks but is, instead, a major whiff—unnecessary, witless and inferior in every way to the highly overrated first film.
Stu (Ed Helms) is preparing to marry his sweetheart, Lauren (Jamie Chung), at a resort in Thailand, and he insists that Phil (Bradley Cooper) and Doug (Justin Bartha) travel to Thailand to celebrate his nuptials. Stu wants nothing to do with Alan (Zach Galifianakis), the cause of the friends’ escapades in Las Vegas in the first Hangover, but Phil’s cajoling persuades Stu to allow Alan to come along.
Lauren’s family, including young brother Teddy and her stern father, are still warming to Stu, but those relationships are the least of his problems. After a safe, sober “bachelor brunch” leads to just “one beer” with the guys, the friends wake up in Bangkok, and to a repeat of the first film’s best gag: the strange sights and sounds the morning after a night the men can’t remember, with evidence of excess all around them. Not only are there empty bottles of alcohol and filled ashtrays throughout the room, but Stu has a new tattoo—on his face. There’s a monkey. But then Mr. Chow (Ken Jeong) unexpectedly appears and the film takes a turn for the dark, as Chow keels over and is disposed of in an ice chest.
This is funny?
Writer/director Phillips seems to thinks so. In addition to the sight gags, he and co-writers Craig Mazin and Scot Armstrong have substituted the “f” word (this reviewer lost count of such uses well into the 30s) for any attempt at creativity in their humor. The team never catches the bizarre comic momentum of the first film, even as they produce carbon copies of many of that film’s jokes. The jokes feel forced, highlighted by an is-she-a-woman-or-a-man sight gag that will have some in the audience gagging.
Helms, a likeable actor, strains to pull off Stu’s radical mood changes as the character rides the improbable emotional rollercoaster the writers have built for him. Cooper’s Phil is a cipher who helps set the story in motion but doesn’t have much else to do. Galifianakis’ unbalanced man-child Alan provides the movie’s few unexpected laughs, as when he dubs himself a “stay at home son” or cites the Jonas Brothers’ touring schedule.
Given that Alan is the only character whose behavior and dialogue has moments that aren’t predictable, maybe Phillips’ planned third Hangover should focus on that character. Based on the overall merits of The Hangover Part II, let’s hope the series never makes it that far.
- Language/Profanity: Lord’s name taken in vain; many uses of the “f” word; “bull-hit”; reference to a lap dance; “whore”; “b-tches”; racial epithets; “penis”; crude discussion about orgasms; crude play on the word “Bangkok”; “boobies”; explicit reference to anal sex; reference to “happy endings.”
- Alcohol/Smoking/Drugs: Phil wants a hit of nitrous oxide while in Stu’s dentist office; Phil tries to steal Stu’s prescription pad; Stu says he doesn’t want to be “Rufi-ed”; Alan immunizes himself through injections; beer drinking; empty bottles and dried cigarette butts shown the morning after a wild night; cocaine use; images of teens drinking, doing drugs; a monkey smokes.
- Sex/Nudity: Kissing; strippers and pole dancers; frontal and rear nudity; a man learns he had sex with someone who isn’t who she appears to be.
- Violence/Crime:A monk hits men with a large stick; Alan accidentally fires a weapon; high-speed car and motorcycle chase; a severed finger.
- Religion/Morals: Alan mentions that Stu’s upcoming marriage won’t be his first; Alan crosses himself; Stu says, “I have a demon in me.”
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