|May 26, 2011|
|Warner Bros. Pictures|
Rated R for pervasive language, strong sexual content including graphic nudity, drug use and brief violent images
|The Hangover Part II
Producing a film sequel too different from the original can kill a franchise. Making a film sequel in exactly the same way as the original is not healthy for a franchise either and I feel like Todd Phillips will learn that with “The Hangover Part II”. With the same exact format, same cast, and attempt at the same general humor, the portions of the film that do stray from the original fall flat and uninspiring. A film that was widely admired for its distinct originality turns the page and completely copies everything it portrayed in the original, losing most of my respect in the process.
Tons of pressure can be placed on directors to recreate genius. The problem is, that pressure can kill a sequel. “The Hangover” was one of the best comedies to come out of Hollywood in the last decade. But the sequel, which was announced days after the original was released, induced groans from this critic the moment the news hit the internet. “The Hangover” was a great, standalone film with so much going for it, that recreating it could only spell disaster.
There was little to no hype for this second film, as hype eventually killed the original; not being able to live up the impossible standards that the satisfied audiences were placing on the comedy. If any hype was placed on “The Hangover Part II” it was negative. Walking out of the midnight screening, I admit my thoughts went there too, and for several reasons.
If I wanted to watch “The Hangover” all over again, I would have popped in the Blu-Ray and saved myself the $7.50 it cost to see the film in theaters. “The Hangover Part II” comes off paced and formatted to fit frame for frame, gimmick for gimmick, the original film. Even the music placement feels contrived. What was original in the first “Hangover” was now mediocre and played out in “Part II”. We have the events leading up to the night, we skip the night of the party, and BAM! we are back following the same clues to the same conclusions and everything feels monotonous and painfully repetitive.
Zach Galifianakis reprises his role of Alan in “Part II”. Due to his success in the first film, Alan basically becomes the center of attention throughout the film, instead of the side character that chimed in at the perfect moments. He is timid and awkward to begin with and eventually becomes a prima donna involved in every facet of the film. This continues to kill the sequel as well. Though I absolutely adore Galifianakis and his character, he does not work as a leading role. Speech after endless, awkward speech, you grow to hate Alan, while the rest of the characters appear to treat him as though you would treat a mentally disabled child, instead of a misguided adult, as in the first film. Each character eventually wanted to tear at Alan’s throat in the original, being the source of most of their problems. The same problems come from the same Alan in the second film, but hardly anyone feels animosity without any explanation.
“The Hangover Part II” basically feels like a mad lib created from the original. Replace a misplaced child with a misplaced monkey. Turn the villain Ken Jeong into Paul Giamatti. Take out the missing groom-to-be Justin Bartha and put in the brother-in-law-to-be Mason Lee. All of this is a swap of the first film with the same tones and same jokes deriving from the same basic elements. Is it really funny twice when they think they are getting their friend back, but they get someone completely different? Is it really funny that they get beat up by gang members in both films, almost the exact same way? Of course, then we start in on capitalizing off the first film like an unnecessary repeat cameo from Mike Tyson. Honestly, who wants to see a complete re-imagining of the first “Hangover”.
The string of events that the wolfpack endures feels completely glazed over. Nothing is hilarious (minus a few reactions to events, most specifically with an ice box and a she-male) and comes off like slapstick humor or a pun that only a middle schooler would find hilarious. The writers go for cheap thrills, like the irony of a monk drinking with the guys. None of it causes the laugh-until-you-cry mentality brought on by the original.
There is also no time crunch in the film, which strays from the original in a negative way. In “The Hangover”, the guys need to find the groom because they are dangerously close to missing the wedding. The same scenario tries to play out in “Part II” but you never feel rushed. And since you know how the first film ended, you assume the same rescue will occur anyways so it does not really matter what happens in between or whether it makes sense. A friend pointed out that the original had depth to its humor. Stu pulled out his own teeth to prove how good of a dentist he was. Why, then, did Teddy cut off his finger? It makes no sense.
The story and pacing were better in the first film, the acting was much better, and even down to the song that Stu sings is one hundred percent better in the first film, proving that Hollywood should leave well enough alone. “The Hangover” was something special; a comedy that struck the hearts and funny bones of America. Why attempt to tarnish that with a “Part II” which is basically the same exact film revisited? Sure, it will make tons of money. But what film wouldn’t when it is banking off the popularity of the first film instead of its own creative elaboration? Though the writers and director dropped the ball on the sequel, you have to take the film for what it is worth, enjoy the continued characters, and pray to God they get it right in “Part III” if and when the day comes.