Bradley Cooper’s smaller than I remember him …


Theatrical Release Date: 05/26/2011
Director: Todd Phillips
Cast: Bradley Cooper, Zach Galifianakis, Ed Helms, Justin Bartha, Ken Jeong, Paul Giamatti, Jeffrey Tambor, Mike Tyson, Mason Lee, Jamie Chung, Sasha Barrese, Crystal
Rated: R for pervasive language, strong sexual content including graphic nudity, drug use and brief violent images.
Runtime: 1 hour, 42 minutes


Trailer:

All hail the monkey king!

Did you see “The Hangover“? Yeah, you probably did.

Did you like it? Yeah, you probably did.

Would you like to see it again? So would I; though after seeing “The Hangover Part II”, I almost wish I had just popped in my Blu-ray and stayed at home instead.

This is doubly sad for me on a selfish level because I was excited at the notion that I could simply break out sections of the first film’s review, slap a new rating on it and get this review banged out in no time. Hell, I even pulled a paragraph verbatim from the original film’s review in order to get on with things:

If you don’t like seeing people getting completely hammered out of their minds and doing the dumbest / most impractical things possible, this probably isn’t for you. The jokes are raunchy and morality is the furthest thing from the minds of our protagonists. The plot here is about as thin as an Olsen sister and the enjoyment derived from watching this is in reveling in the characters’ substance-fueled all-nighter.

While those sentiments still hold, instead of getting another bite at “The Hangover” apple, it feels like the sequel is an overripe banana (fruit metaphors have never been my strong suit). Simply substituting Bangkok for Las Vegas, monkey for baby, and tattoo for tooth via word replacement on the original script, doesn’t mean it’s going to be enough for audiences who loved the first film. Knowing the formula and the characters already, any pauses in the story seem to stretch longer than they probably are. As such, the pacing becomes a problem early and there simply aren’t enough new setups to cancel it out.

Also, there’s a fundamental problem that downgrades the overall effort. What made the first film so fun was watching these guys do silly things because they were wasted. Here, much of the silliness has either been replaced with a less comical sense of danger or the sordidness of Bangkok’s not so family friendly attractions. There’s a BIG difference between worrying about the protagonists getting beat up and worrying about them getting shot.

Then there’s the new character of Teddy (Mason Lee), who is perhaps one of the most forgettable actors I’ve ever seen. He’s practically invisible on-screen, delivering the same non-reaction to every action happening around him. I understand the need in comedies for a straight man, but that’s what Justin Bartha is here for … and at least he does enough that you remember his presence.

I’m sure everyone enamored with the first film has been waiting for the sequel and can see from the trailers that director Todd Phillips and crew have simply taken the original script, changed the locale and tweaked a few of the scenarios. “The Hangover Part II” does provide a decent number of laughs and brings the Wolfpack back on screen but it pales in comparison to its predecessor and only gets a 2 out of 5. Hopefully, should they decide to reunite one more time, they’ll find a better balance of giving audiences what they’re expecting while also providing fresh laughs that don’t break with the spirit of the characters’ chemistry.

2 out of 5

EDITOR’S NOTE 5/21/13: Downgraded Rating for Hangover Part II after seeing Hangover Part III. The perils of writing a review so quickly to get it out for release are the occasional inability to forecast the continuing slide of a movie’s appeal. This second installment isn’t something I’d watch for free as long as there were still books, playing cards, or a knife & stick for whittling available to me.