DISCLAIMER: I’m just copy/pasting this review from the one I posted on Facebook, with a few additions and clarifications. There’s no need for me to go into much more detail on this movie, but I do want to say a couple more things about this “franchise” in general.
The Hangover: Part II is so similar to the original that it could just as easily be called a remake as a sequel. Despite how much I enjoyed the film, I can’t help but feel insulted by how little they changed from the first one. There are two noteworthy differences between The Hangover and Part II. One is the new location (Bangkok) and the second is the prominent use of a monkey, which you could actually argue just replaces the prominent use of a tiger in the first movie. So the location may be the only major difference. Instead of the lame “Part II” subtitle, they should have just called it The Hangover: Bangkok. In the long history and tradition of Hollywood sequels, this may be the least original one ever made. And that’s saying something.
What’s missing here, as every reviewer before me has noted, is the freshness and the surprise of the original. The question isn’t “How will this end?” anymore, it’s “What new jokes will we see to get us from the same beginning to the same ending?” And that’s really all it is; new jokes and new situations to end up at the very same places.
Having said that, the movie is very funny. Not quite as funny as the original, but I was LOL’ing fairly frequently. However, a lot of the new jokes made use of male nudity that I can only describe as…excessive. This movie has more dicks in it than a feature-length porno. And that’s not an exaggeration. Very disturbing. I also thought too many of the jokes were centered on Zach Galifiankis‘s Alan character. If Alan wasn’t the one being funny, every time someone else was funny, there’d be a cut to Alan showing his funny reaction.
Overall, the cast is good. I liked Ken Jeong having an expanded role, I thought they made pretty good use of the brother-in-law-to-be (the kid who gets “lost” this go-around), but make no mistake: this one, though focused around Ed Helms‘ Stu character’s wedding, is all about Galifianakis. I’m not totally sick of it yet, but I’m at least weary of his act. I think of anyone in this cast, Ed Helms has the brightest future. I can easily see him moving into drama and following the Tom Hanks model, though obviously not with that level of success. Audiences will eventually tire of Galifianakis, especially when he’s eventually given his own movie to himself. Then the next pudgy, hairy comedian will come along with a new shtick, as seems to be the tradition in comedy. Bradley Cooper isn’t required to do much for his character, but he’s fine enough. I did think Paul Giamatti was underutilized in his little part, but it is what it is. The focus has to stay on the primary characters. As per the first film, the women in this one have little to do, least of all any comedy, and are even more irrelevant than the women in the first movie. At least there, a couple of them had things to do other than scream into a phone, “Where are you?!” If you want to see women being funny, Bridesmaids is still playing and worth your time.
Finally, the filmmaking, as always with Todd Phillips at the helm, is superb. The movie looks better than almost any other comedy, because Phillips is an excellent visual director. He doesn’t tone down the quality of the filmmaking just because he’s making a comedy, and I respect that a lot. He also doesn’t need to be wasting his time with sequels like this. I still hold out hope he’ll expand and do other genres, as he clearly has the talent. The cinematography here is gorgeous, he shoots in nice wide angles, and the editing is equally skillful. I think Phillips could make an action movie or a drama just as easily as he handles comedy.
In the end, my original fears about why this was even made were confirmed. There was no NEED for another one, and they sure as hell didn’t come up with a story good enough to warrant a sequel. It was done for money, and nothing else. These characters started as mostly realistic people who exist in the real world, and now they’ve become this cartoonish “Wolfpack” that we’re now supposed to EXPECT is constantly getting into these kinds of situations. Actually, that’s the clever thing they pulled off here. They’ve set it up so that if there’s a Part III, we’ll no longer be surprised. At the end of the movie, they basically state that this is what they are now, a group of normal guys who sometimes end up doing absurdly insane shit while they party. It doesn’t score many points for originality, but it does set them up nicely for another movie, whether we want to see one or not.
Again, I really enjoyed this movie, I like these characters, and I laughed a lot, but I have literally never seen a sequel with such an uninspired plot structure, and that laziness in storytelling, done just so everyone involved could cash in even more on the success of the original, is just WRONG. It actually offends me. I’ll tell you this right now; if they make a third one with the same cast and same director with the same structure again, I will not pay to see it in theaters. You have to draw the line somewhere.
“I feel like I’ve shot this before.”
And that’s the end of my original review. I did enjoy the movie, but I can’t include it with the original on my “Movies I Love” list, because I can’t love anyone who has as little respect for me as this sequel did.
Of course, Part II had a massive opening weekend. It opened on Thursday the 26th, giving it a 5-day Memorial Day opening. It took in $85.9 million between the Wednesday night midnight shows and Sunday for the weekend, and when you include Monday for the 5-day weekend, it’s already made $135 million on a +/- $80 million budget. It’s over $200 million worldwide. That’s easily the biggest opening ever for an R-rated comedy. If there’s a positive to take out of this, it’s more evidence for the stupid Hollywood suits that people will show up en masse for an R-rated movie. Yes, it was a sequel, but still. I’m not all that impressed with those numbers, because it’s going to take a huge plummet this weekend once audiences realize they’ve been duped. Despite this mega-opening, and for the reasons just stated, I’m still calling that it will not outgross the original (which finished at $277 million).
The bad news? Warner Bros. has predictably already put a third Hangover into development. They’ve hired writer Craig Mazin (who co-wrote Part II and had a hand in Scary Movie 3 and 4) to starting working on Part III. No, there are no plot details and the main cast, as well as Todd Phillips, have said they won’t commit to a third one unless there’s a good idea. Then again, they also said that about the second one, so that tells you how concerned they are about “good ideas” when a huge payday is involved. To be fair to Phillips, even he has said that if there were a third one, he wouldn’t want to have the same structure as the first two, and I will choose to take him at his word on that. Again, I just don’t think any of these guys could say no to this guaranteed payday on Part II, and I can forgive them that. I can forgive that once, anyway.
As I said above, I will not see a Hangover III in theaters if it’s the same people doing the same thing for a third time. I don’t think that’s gonna happen, though. Mazin joked that he’d like to see the third one end with many of the main characters dead from their newest adventure. If the movie had that kind of balls, I’d be excited about it. There have to eventually be some kind of consequences for these guys and the people around them. But how do you make that funny? Well, I’m not the one writing it, that’s their problem to figure out. I just don’t believe Warner Bros. will allow them to be that brave with it. But if that’s the direction they’re thinking, I’m on board. You cant’ just put these guys in another new city (Amsterdam has been thrown around) and have them go through one crazy night of partying. There has to be some evidence of their actions other than a camera phone or digital camera. Regardless, going forward I will view The Hangover as a standalone film, and I’ll simply refuse to acknowledge the sequel(s) as existing in that same world. Whatever helps you sleep at night, right?
-We’re halfway through the first season of Game of Thrones, and it continues getting better and better. For today’s Recommended Listening, I found this excellent video the other day of a dude covering Ramin Djawadi‘s theme song on the electric guitar. Love it.
and of course, the original: