Pin It

Unclear on the Concept: The Hangover once again squanders its potential 

The sequel to the 2009 The Hangover premieres with similarities to the first film.

click to enlarge film_2011_hangover_2_001.jpg
Whatever your feelings are about the original 2009 The Hangover, let's all agree on this: As a basic comedic premise, it's pure genius, because it wasn't obviously a comedic premise at all. Put a bunch of characters in an unfamiliar location with no idea how they got there or what they did along the way, but turn the tone sideways, and instead of a raucous crowd-pleaser, you've got Flash Forward. What screenwriters Jon Lucas and Scott Moore didn't really figure out with the original Hangover was what to do with that premise. They only seemed interested in the most obviously outrageous applications; like a pair of teenagers who suddenly found themselves with the power of invisibility, their imaginations were limited to sneaking into the girls' locker room.

The Hangover Part II faces a couple of huge problems from the outset: our familiarity with that once-original premise and the apparent idiocy that the same thing could happen to the same people. While director Todd Phillips and his new team of screenwriters do a surprisingly decent job with the latter, they do most of the exact same things with the formula - with predictably similar results.

The cause for celebration this time around is the planned wedding between Stu (Ed Helms) and Lauren (Jamie Chung) in her family's native Thailand. Joining in the festivities, of course, are Phil (Bradley Cooper) and Alan (Zach Galifianakis), joined by Lauren's precociously gifted 16-year-old brother, Teddy (Mason Lee). They're just planning to have one pre-wedding beer on the beach - but then they all wake up in a hotel room in Bangkok. Alan's got a shaved head. Stu has a face tattoo. There's a monkey hanging out in the room. And Teddy is nowhere to be found, having left behind one of his severed fingers.

For much of the film, it's almost enough just to spend some quality crazy-time with Galifianakis' Alan. With every passing performance, Galifianakis seems more and more like a savant of deadpan lunacy, and he's in fine form here. Phillips and company actually do a terrific job of setting up his character, who not only isn't shamed of the events from the first film, but has turned his room into a shrine to the best night of his life with his best friends. Alan's childlike possessiveness of the "Wolfpack" buddies he considers "his" sets up everything that comes after, and Galifianakis spends that intervening time conveying a state of something akin to bliss - because no matter what happens, it's happening with his pals.

If Phillips had thought with that level of detail about everything else in The Hangover Part II, he might have been onto something really exceptional. But there's a general half-assedness to the way the film deals with stuff that's not Galifianakis-related. While Bradley Cooper played a significant role in the first film as the group's worldly alpha-male, here it seems like he has virtually nothing to do but spout exposition and react to the crazy stuff happening around him. If he has 100 lines in Part II, I'm guessing that 50 of them are either "Holy shit!" or "What the fuck?" A subplot involving squeaky-voiced gangster Mr. Chow (Ken Jeong) and a shadowy "businessman" (Paul Giamatti) feels almost superficially attached to echo the underworld stuff from the original. Perhaps the biggest missed opportunity comes with young Teddy, whose role replacing Doug (Justin Bartha) as the object of the plot's scavenger hunt completely overlooks his own potential to be an interesting part of the plot. How do you not get mileage out of a virtuoso teenage cellist-cum-budding Doogie Howser with a domineering father who gets to party and loses one of his fret fingers?

It would be easy enough just to pick on The Hangover Part II for its tiny-penis gags or building its big gross-out punch line around a tranny prostitute; when you're hanging out with frat boys, Oscar Wilde isn't going to be tossing off witticisms at that same party. And occasionally, the film does find humor in a surreal inventive way, like Stu improvising a ballad about their misadventures to the tune of Billy Joel's "Allentown." Generally, though, it feels exactly like a script that was thrown together quickly to capitalize on an unexpected success, duplicating the execution with all its flaws. If there's a mystery remaining for another installment, it's how you can keep wasting so much potential.

Starring Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms, Zach Galifianakis
Directed by Todd Phillips
Rated R


Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Latest in Film

More by Intern

  • The Other Half of the Yoga Equation

    The Source Issue 45 (Nov. 10) contained wonderful information about the forms of yoga offered in our vicinity. Most of the information covered pertained to the socially enjoyable forms of yoga enjoyed by the folks who use yoga mats and bendy posturing as they concentrate on improving their blissful breathing techniques. These physical forms of yoga are the beautiful compliments to the mental, mindful and meditative forms of yoga that balance the larger yoga (yogic) equation. Yoga is basically a non-denominational practice aimed at balancing the physical (body) existence with the meta-physical (mind) reality. The ensuing mind-body balance creates the union required for an increased "understanding" (consciousness) of the "living experience."
    • Jan 25, 2012
  • Walden's Corporate Servitude

    In the time-honored American tradition of peaceful civil disobedience, I am proud to be one of eight Central Oregon citizens arrested on December 5 in Congressman Greg Walden's Bend office. At our January 26 trial we plan to present a compelling defense. This act of dissent follows years of futile attempts to encourage the Congressman to hold open, unscripted town meetings accessible to a majority of his constituents. The Congressman has grown so suspicious of impromptu encounters with ordinary citizens that on Saturday he required a Bend Police Department intervention that enabled him to enter the Water Project meeting at the Chamber of Commerce through the back door. (Greg, we are nonviolent people who believe that democracy thrives on open dialogue and transparency; there is no reason to avoid us.)
    • Jan 25, 2012
  • Doors of Equality Swing Both Ways

    I had to respond to "What's Wrong with Siri," (News, 1-4) since Apple's Siri isn't the problem. Three hours before I read, "What's wrong with Siri," I went to a store in town and complimented the cashier that this was the nicest "dollar" store I had ever been in.
    • Jan 11, 2012
  • More »

Readers also liked…

© 2016 LAY IT OUT INC | 704 NW GEORGIA, BEND, OREGON 97703  |   Privacy Policy

Website powered by Foundation