First of all, I have an issue with the title of this flick being called “Part II”. When you say something is Part II that implies that Part I was not complete, and that you had some kind of plan for a continuation of the story. Godfather Part II, for example. I think the story of the Hangover was pretty well encapsulated and completely told. There were no loose wires or unresolved issues at the end, like Darth Vader not being killed at the end of Episode IV and the whole Empire still in full power. There was nothing, in fact, that even suggested a second part was needed or even desired (except for the whole “Doug married a Las Vegas hooker thing, but in spite of being the only thing that seemed to lead to another film the writers of P2 managed to dispense that whole issues with one line of expository dialog).
(Baby Carlos image courtesy of the nerd t-shirts)
This does not mean that the Hangover was not worthy of a sequel, nor that it would not be funny. Just that calling it Part II is a level of hubris that goes beyond the pale. I happen to know the story behind the creation of P1, and there was never a plan for this thing to do more than slink off to the DvD graveyard. The wild success of the movie out of nowhere is part of the mystical story of the film beyond the film. Also, there is no way calling this movie the Hangover Part II in any way enhances the film watching experience, unless having me be annoyed while standing in line at the box office is a part the movie magic.
Anyway, I got done with the convention I did yesterday and treated myself to a full price movie ticket. So, after being annoyed at the film name and scoring my usual Junior Mints, I creeped out some guy by sitting in the empty seat right next to him and watched the film.
I am going to be tossing out some spoilers here in a few lines and will, out of basic human decency, warn you beforehand. However, I can say without reservation that if you have seen the Hangover P1 then you have seen the Hangover P2. It is the bastard love child of the Hangover mated with the Hangover, and like most cases of direct inbreeding, has come out with something that looks remarkably similar but is in many ways defective. Is it funny? Yes. Will you laugh? Yes. Will you want to spend the money to see it a second time? No. Just not that good. The overall feeling is that the writers mostly phoned it in. Maybe they were under some kind of unrealistic deadline (“We need to start making money on this NOW NOW NOW!”) and figured the best way to get it done was to just rework the old script with a couple new characters and an Asian supporting cast.
Before I get into the story I would like to reiterate what I just said in the last paragraph: it is EXACTLY THE SAME MOVIE. The individual jokes and scenes are (modestly) different and funny, but the story is the same, only grittier and set in Thailand. Here is where I toss is my SPOILER ALERT, but honestly, nothing to worry about. Does any of this sound familiar? The movie starts with the Phil (Bradley Cooper) calling in to tell a friend of the bride that the crew f***ed up. Then the flashback begins. Stu is getting married to a super, duper hot Thai girl in Thailand. Her father hates him in the most stereotypical “I hate white boys” way humanly possible. They have a little party on the beach and one of the Wolfpack who shall go nameless but whose name rhymes with Talan accidentally drugs the whole crew while attempting to do something more benign. They wake up in a seedy Bangkok hotel room missing the 16 year old brother of the bride, who is a Stanford premed. They find, instead of a baby and a tiger, a monkey (ok, I guess the writers made some changes), and, for no reason whatsoever except to crowbar him back into the film, Mr. Chow from the first movie. Stu, rather than missing a tooth, has a Mike Tyson style tattoo on his face. The crew is then required to run around the city recreating the night before wherein the following stuff that is not exactly like the first movie happens (spoilers incoming in force. Do not keep reading if you plan to see this movie and want to be “surprised”):
Stu finds out he had sex with a tranny hooker (which is not the same as marrying a hooker). The crew kidnapped a Bhuddist monk under a vow of silence and get beat up by another monk when they try to return him (which is not the same a stealing a tiger from Mike Tyson and getting punched in the face for it). Stu got a face tattoo (which is not the same as removing a tooth). The monkey is made by Alan to look like he is giving oral to a fake penis on the monk on a bus (which is not the same as making it look like the baby is masturbating at a breakfast table). They meet up with an Arabic tranny club owner who points them on their way (which is not the same as meeting the Israeli wedding chapel owner in Vegas). They meet a guy who claims to have kidnapped the kid they are looking for and will not give him back unless they get an account code from Mr. Chow but then later turns out he doesn’t have the kid at all (which is totally different from Mr. Chow claiming to have kidnapped Doug and will not give him back unless they give him his money back only to find out that Chow had the wrong Doug). In the end, they find the kid trapped in an elevator 30 feet from the room they woke up in, which is completely, 100% different from finding Doug on the roof of the hotel they were in at the beginning of the movie.
Anyway, other stuff happens. Bangkok hijinks ensue. Most of the stuff was funny when taken in part but kind of lame when placed into the context of the whole film. Overall the film had a much darker quality that really bled off a lot of the humor. Alan’s motivation to drug people was actively malicious rather than an good hearted attempt to let everyone have a good time. Having a fully grown adult male go missing in a relatively safe city like Las Vegas and the only real concern was getting him back in time for the wedding is good, lighthearted fare whereas having a 16 year old boy go missing in a city known for it’s danger like Bangkok seemed to be a much less funny motivation, especially when everyone they talked to about the missing kid seemed to feel like it was pretty good odds he was dead or living as a male drug whore already. The phrase “Bangkok has him” kept coming up. In one movie you were worried about a guy missing his wedding. In this one you were worried about a kid being dead in a ditch. Just not that funny.
Honestly, that really brings me to my ultimate problem with this movie, and that is the lack of consequences for any of the actions. In the first movie the crew stole a police car and ended up getting used as tazer practice. They stole money from Mr. Chow and got the Mercedes wrecked for it. Stu married a hooker and, for good or ill, ended his current long term relationship. Actions had consequences, and that is what made it real and funny for me. In this movie some of the most horrific, life changing mistakes a person can make occurred with no real consequence and even less concern by the characters involved. A man has unprotected anal sex with a Thai transvestite hooker? No danger or concern for an STD there. A 16 year old kid who wants to be a surgeon and is a concert cellist loses a finger? Nothing to worry about after the initial shock, and even the kid doesn’t seem to care. Lose a finger and spend 24 hours trapped in an elevator in a Bangkok slum, a city know for it’s hygienic standards? No danger of gangrene at all. Your bride finds out that you once married a Las Vegas hooker and had sex with a tranny hooker when you show up for your wedding with a face tattoo? No reason to call off or postpone that wedding, or even demand an explanation. Have a human corpse to deal with? Stuff it in the nearest ice machine and get on with your day. Wash your brand new face tattoo with brown Bangkok tap water and later have pig blood sprayed all over it? No danger of infection there. Kidnap a monk? Run a speed boat up a beach and over a stone barricade into a wedding party? Steal from Russian drug dealers? Incite a riot? Throw a Molotov cocktail and burn a police car? Be involved with an international criminal when he is getting arrested by Interpol? All boyish pranks that in no way should get you killed or arrested.
The list goes on and on. The problem is after about the third or fourth one you get disconnected from the potential seriousness of the situations and, ironically, that makes them less funny. It’s like if the big battle between the criminals and police during the robbery in the movie Heat had been done with Nerf guns. You just wouldn’t care, and honestly after a while I found myself not really caring either.
This is on it’s way to being my longest review ever. I had better get into the stars and black holes. First the stars. The movie was indeed funny, in parts. One star. The monkey is also funny. One star. The chemistry between the main characters is still, in spite of the less than inspired writing, excellent. Three stars. Some of the Thai scenery was beautiful and well shot. One star. The bride (Jamie Chung) was so hot it made my head hurt. One star. Mr. Chow (Ken Jeong) was back and, in spite of being forced into the movie, was really entertaining. One star. Paul Giamatti managed to show up as a secondary character. One star. Dialog was decent. One star. Total: ten stars.
Now the black holes. I should give one for every scene lifted directly from the first movie, but I will restrain myself. Three black holes. Alan was kind of a dick instead of the relatively happy innocent he was in the first movie. One black hole. He has some awkward scenes at the wedding party that I just wanted to end. One black hole. The whole “action without consequences” thing I bitched about earlier. Three black holes. Rampant xenophobia. One black hole. Rampant homophobia. One black hole. Every Thai person needed to propel the story along spoke nearly perfect English, including one of the Buddhist monks and the tranny prostitute. One black hole. The future father-in-law was as stereotypical as possible. One black hole. The bride and her relationship with Stu was painfully one dimensional (“We love each other because we’re in love.”). One black hole. If you are going to do a film in Thailand is it absolutely necessary to make a significant part of it about transsexuals? One black hole for grabbing the low hanging fruit. My one positive thought throughout the movie was “At least they didn’t figure out a way to get Mike Tyson into this” until the end when they figured out a way to get Mike Tyson into the film in a scene that will have you holding your breath in an attempt to pass out rather than have to watch any more of him. One black hole. Multiple penises shown on screen in an obvious attempt to stay in the rated R zone. One black hole. Total: 17 black holes.
Yes, a total of 7 black holes. Of course, in spite of me panning it along with the vast majority of critics out there it was still a massively grossing movie. Some days I just hate people. If you loved the first one see this one, but try to wipe the first from your memory. If you for some reason never saw P1 then you might actually really enjoy P2, but honestly without the character perspective given to us by P1 you might miss the charm of Alan and the others. There is nothing in the filming here that requires a large screen, so feel free to watch it at home. Decently entertaining, but two years from now you will not be quoting it or holding it up as one of your all time favorite comedies like you would the Hangover.