Sunday, May 29, 2011

The Hangover Part II (2011)

What is Zach doing? He's praying he's not really in this movie.
     I'm not bold enough to even try and bury the lead on this one. The Hangover Part II sucks. It is the worst movie I've seen so far this year, and there have been some real doozies. It is unfunny, unoriginal, and completely unworthy of your time and mine. It's like this: Yesterday, I got a bill from my student loan company. I had more fun paying that than I did watching The Hangover 2: Hungoverer.
     The Hangover is a laugh-out-loud funny movie. One that is smart, witty, and fairly original. Everything in The Hangover just worked, and the movie profited from it. Two things then happened that usually happen when a comedy becomes a runaway success. First, it was adopted by the "Bro-Dude" subculture as "the best movie evar made, bra!", successfully usurping the crown from long-time champ Old School (which, oddly enough, is also directed by Todd Phillips). Secondly, Warner Bros. rented a dump truck, filled it with money, and backed it up to Todd Phillips' front door with a note that went something like, "Hey Todd, Hangover 2 please! Kgr8thnx!". As you can probably guess, any unholy creation that springs forth as a result of the collision of these two after-effects doesn't exactly scream artistic integrity.
     Now that we have the origin story out of the way, let's dive head-first into what exactly makes this movie a rotten lump of hot garbage. First and foremost, the structure of the movie is exactly the same as the first. I understand that a sequel such as this should be constructed to deliver "more of the same". That is totally expected. What isn't expected is seeing the same exact plot twice, with few different jokes and characters. That makes the movie not only lazy, but insulting. Here's the plot of Hangover 2: Electric Boogaloo: The Wolf Pack (Ed Helms, Bradley Cooper, Zach Galifianakis, Justin Bartha) go to Las Vegas Thailand for a wedding. At the bachelor party, the guys get drugged and black out. When they wake up the next morning Alan has no pants no hair, Stu is missing a tooth has a tattoo on his face, Doug the bride's brother Teddy is missing, Phil calls Doug's wife and tells her what happened, and the gang discovers a tiger monkey in the bathroom. All sorts of the same gags from the first movie happen along the way including, but not limited to, Chou jumping out of a trunk an ice chest and attacking the gang. As if this unabashed repetition isn't bad enough, the film has the audacity to go one step further. At several points throughout the film they actually talk about the funny parts of the first movie. Rather than recreating some gags, they just verbally reference them! It's like the Chris Farley Show skit from Saturday Night Live, "Remember...remember when we did this funny stuff? Yeah...that was awesome!".
     Now, what "new" jokes and so-called humor the movie does have are nothing short of repugnant. This movie is not made for the audience that initially embraced it. I am part of that audience. This was made for the aforementioned "frat boy" crowd. I love "R"-rated, gross out comedy and black comedy (the darker the better). I honestly can't recall a movie I've seen that has "gone too far". This is different, though. The Hangover Episode II: The Phantom Finger is a mean-spirited movie with no regard for any of it's characters. What makes the first movie work so well are these same characters. Not only are they well-defined, but over the course of the movie, and the more horrific things they discover they had done the night before, they feel bad for their dirty deeds. They are normal and (mostly) good people caught up in an extraordinary situation.You can identify with their shock and horror around every turn. In the sequel, however, the characters look the same but have none of their former compassion or morality. They are just posable props that can be placed in whatever inappropriate situation Phillips can think up. (SPOILERS/) Phil gets shot in an alley in Bangkok and somehow doesn't care. He dusts himself off, gets some stitches, and continues on his merry way. Teddy, a musician and pre-med student, loses a finger. He literally shrugs and says, "Oh well". Stu discovers that he was anally raped during his blackout, and just takes it in stride as if it's something that happens all the time. Oh yeah, and a monkey gets shot purely for laughs. (/SPOILERS) None of this is funny. It's mean and off-putting. They alter, and in some cases permanently ruin, peoples lives and just walk away. The material is so putrid not even the immensely talented cast can overcome it. They too are victims of the film's evil deeds.
     As an audience member, I feel like this film violated my trust. In making a sequel to a movie there are rules of etiquette that need to be followed. Rules like not alienating the audience that liked it in the first place, and not changing the characters the audience knows. The film feels like an exercise in arrogance from Todd Phillips. Like he can deliver anything he wants to an audience and they're too stupid to understand they've been had and will just eat it up anyway. I implore you to not see this movie. Nothing good can come of it and you will almost surely feel like you wasted your time and money. Grade: F  

     P.S. - I'll try and close this out on a positive note. The best part of going to see this trash is that I got the chance to see the trailer for 50/50. That movie looks fantastic and I cannot wait to see it. 

The Good, The Bad, and The Marty

     I really don't feel like it's fitting to use The Hangover as the good here. It just feels unnatural to use a previous entry in a franchise here. I'm going to go with Bachelor Party. I don't particularly hold this film in high regard, but it is undeniably funny and definitely holds a specific place in cinema. It is the story Rick Gassko (Tom Hanks) and the bachelor party his friends insist he needs. Tom hanks is great in the lead role. He is the anchor that makes the raunchiness and debauchery funny, just like the main cast in The Hangover. By being a genuinely decent person he becomes the portal through which the audience can participate in the antics. You can relate with him and join him as the victim in the exploits of the film. Nowhere near as mean-spirited as The Hangover 2: Hair of the Dog, Bachelor Party is a good substitute if you're looking for the same kind of laughs you got from the original Hangover 
     This is probably going to sound like a personal attack, and I'm aware that is is more than slightly unprofessional, but H2: Project Bangkok really hit me in a bad way. "The Bad" for this review is every other film Todd Phillips has made other than the original Hangover. His humor is juvenile at best, he recycles jokes and themes over and over again, and he is completely full of himself (just watch this video at the THR roundtable of him whining about the WGA then being completely out-classed by Aaron Sorkin). I thought The Hangover might have been a turning point in his career, but it turns out it was just a fluke and it succeeded in spite of him. I mean, even a broken clock is right twice a day.
      Martin Scorsese's After Hours is a genius experiment in comedy filmmaking. It is completely absurd, slightly disturbing, and altogether hilarious. Griffin Dunne plays Paul Hackett, an ordinary guy with a boring life who meets a girl at a coffee shop one night. Throughout the course of the evening he gets into increasingly weird and dangerous situations. I don't want to over-explain anything because it's simply better to let the movie happen to you. It's a great forgotten gem by one of cinema's finest directors. It's one of those little movies that reminds you why you love cinema in the first place. 
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