Would Offend Corleone, Himself

The Hangover Part II (May 26, 2011)     2.5/5     

Directed by Todd Phillips (Warner Bros. Pictures)

What is The Hangover Part II besides the biggest cash cow of the new century?   The original, released in 2009, was the most successful R-rated comedy ever, making a worldwide gross of over $467 million.  No doubt this warranted a sequel, and for better or worse, the filmmakers responsible decided to stick to the exact same format of storytelling.  Was this a good decision?  Well, yes and no.  It gives the actors a chance to hilariously linger upon the fact that this situation could happen twice, a typical element in sequels.  This may provide for a few laughs, but it also makes Part II predictable, devoid of consistent humor, and surprisingly dry once the boys wake up from their memory eliminating nap after the previous night’s events.  Surely these are all elements of the cow.

But the great thing about The Hangover Part II is that it knows it’s only in the game to make bank; that nothing is possibly left in this formula to fill a whole film of genuine laughs.  Therefore, to assure that its audience isn’t too disappointed, it turns up the raunch factor.  A LOT.  In fact, most of the laughs in Part II come from sheer disbelief; shock value rather than genuine humor.  However, it is interesting how often this works.  Some of the best moments of the original film came from such surprises, although that movie was far more clever and consistent in the way its “incidents” were used sparingly, complete with jokes spread like jelly in between. 

The Hangover Part II is a lot messier than that, but surprisingly, it’s a gooey, overstuffed sandwich you can still eat, even if you hate yourself afterword. This time, Stu (Ed Helms) is the lucky man about to state his vows.  He plans on marrying a lovely lady named Laura (Jamie Chung) in Thailand, but with Phil (Bradley Cooper), Doug (Justin Bartha), and Alan (Zach Galifianakis) along for the ride, complications obviously ensue.  To make matters worse, Laura’s father doesn’t particularly like Stu, which surely raises the stakes when Phil, Stu, and Alan wake up in Bangkok with the wedding impending, and naturally, no memory of the night before.  And where’s Teddy!  Laura’s younger brother (Mason Lee) had joined the boys the previous evening, but has now disappeared amongst the brothels, monasteries, and tattoo parlors.  So the boys have to go through the motions once again, just the same way they did in Vegas to find Doug two years ago.  Clues involve a face tattoo, a smoking monkey, a Buddhist monk, and a few high points – Ken Jeong reprising his role as gangster Leslie Chow, and Paul Giamatti as a mob boss.  After all, the comedic actors are arguably the franchise’s main point of success.

Galifianakis, who was the original’s breakout star, obviously gets more showtime here, to hysterical effect.  Helms, who plays Andy on The Office, is just as funny playing his conservative, worrying, ill-tempered, four-eyed Stu.  And Cooper, who has fully established himself as a Hollywood movie star in the last two years, once again makes a marvelous frontman.  Maybe the most impressive thing director Todd Philipps has done with this series is create a set of characters that are loveable and inventive, putting a smile on your face even through the sagginess that some areas of Part II offer.  This mostly takes place during the film’s semi-barren second act, in which the raunchiness is at its peak.  Unlike the first, there are few jokes that take place between each crude moment of discovery.  Most of them take place before our heroes wake up in Bangkok, a very funny 15 minutes.

Fortunately, despite the cringe-worthy moments, and that ounce of predictability, it all builds to a satisfying conclusion.  And like the first film, we arrive at those pictures during the end credits.  Oh R rating, as that night in Bangkok is chronologically reviewed, your limits are surely pushed.  And besides taking in the millions, that is what The Hangover Part II knowingly offers.  An extremely offensive, fairly amusing night of laughs.  You already know whether you’ll be up for the trip.


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