The Hangover Part II
Cast: Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms, Zach Galifianakis, Ken Jeong, Jeffrey Tambor, Mike Tyson, Justin Bartha, Paul Giamatti
Fordham University, ‘12
“A gentleman is one who never hurts anyone's feelings unintentionally.” – Oscar Wilde
The Hangover Part II
Review By: Daniel Reynolds
Hangovers. We’ve all had them before, nature’s reminder that pouring large quantities of poison into our bodies may feel sublime in the moment, but ultimately has its tragic consequences: the pounding head, the rising nausea, the promise to ourselves that we’ll never do that to ourselves again. But inevitably we do, and so has Hollywood, churning out The Hangover Part II, a sequel disappointingly devoid of the surprise, wit, and charm that made the first Hangover such a standout comedy in 2009.
So where did the sequel go wrong? The answer is: ‘surprise’, an essential element to this genre that this script just doesn’t deliver. Expectant fans are given only a cheap carbon copy of the original story. As you’ll recall from Part I, groomsmen Phil (Bradley Cooper), Stu (Ed Helms), and Alan (Zach Galifianakis) decide to throw a bachelor party for their friend on the eve of his wedding. They awake the next day to discover their world in disarray: their friend is missing, they have no memory of the night before, and they must piece together last night’s events in order to find him before the ceremony. The Hangover Part II is essentially paint by numbers. Swap Las Vegas for Bangkok, a missing tooth for a tattoo, a baby for a monkey and the rest is déjà vu. Even Mike Tyson makes an unfortunate repeat cameo. The characters also frequently reference the events of the original. “This is not Stu’s first marriage,” Alan says during a wedding toast. “There was a whore in Las Vegas a few years ago.” I laughed, but I was laughing at the memory of a better movie.
In place of originality, The Hangover Part II relies on the trick of shock value, and relentlessly tries to top the absurdity of its predecessor. (Some spoilers, here). Within minutes, the viewer is confronted with full-frontal male nudity, a cocaine overdose, and a string of gunfights, car burnings, and police riots in the streets. The movie paints a very dark portrait of Bangkok. “Once Bangkok has you in its grip, it won’t let you go,” says Paul Giamatti in a supporting role as a gangster, and indeed the movie is less about the mystery of “What the hell happened last night?” than about the protagonists trying to escape this hellish place populated by morally bankrupt characters. (The wedding, conveniently, is located at a posh island resort only accessible by boat.) And while I’m sure there are those that may laugh at the prospect of the groom-to-be having unprotected sex with a Thai transsexual stripper, there will be many like myself, who will pity the poor bride and the inevitable disease she will contract on her wedding night.
If you’re looking for a plethora of special features, you’ll be disappointed. In addition to a gag reel,
If you must watch this movie, make sure you experience it in Blu-ray. The camera crews were not as lazy as the writers, and it shows. The 1080p/AVC-encoded video transfer succeeds in creating an often-startling clarity. Bangkok’s grittiness comes to life in vivid and oversaturated colors. Every pore, stubble, and drop of sweat trickles through. In a scene near the film’s conclusion, dozens of paper lanterns are launched into the night sky, and the effect is nothing less than breathtaking on a large screen.
As for Warner’s DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 soundtrack, you’ll be thrilled by the immersive experience. Listen carefully past the dialogue, and you’ll hear the city shake with traffic, waves lap on a dock, an ice machine hum, and a helicopter roar. In addition, the music is well chosen and suits the mood of each scene. As the camera pans across the still-unconscious Wolf Pack, Johnny Cash’s “The Beast In Me” plays and perfectly captures the struggle of these men coming to terms with their wanton alter egos. At times The Hangover Part II often feels like a musical, as its characters burst into song throughout. In one strange riverboat scene, Stu strums an inexplicable guitar and sings “Alan-town,” a memorable spoof of Billy Joel’s “Allentown.” In such brief moments of levity, I could almost forget what movie I was watching. Almost.