Saturday, May 28, 2011
The Hangover Part II
Anyone planning on seeing this movie should know that if you saw the first movie, you have already seen this story. It does not quite qualify as a shot for shot remake, but it is pretty close. The comparison between "Evil Dead" and "Evil Dead II" seems most appropriate. Same story, same characters, same general events, bigger production values and a little more pushing of the edges of the envelope. I looked forward to this film because the first Hangover was perfect. If you never saw the first film, then this one will be amazing for you. Having enjoyed the first move at least a dozen times, the second one here is entertaining, but it is not as memorably magnificent as it's predecessor.
We already know the characters to start off with, so there are very few surprises about their reactions to the events that befall them. Phil will be overconfident that he can handle things and he will be wrong more often than not, Stu will be desperate and panicky at unpleasant memories as they come flooding back, and Alan will be clueless and inappropriate at the worst possible times. Since we can anticipate the reactions they are not fresh, and half the fun of the first movie was that we were learning new things about these guys on a regular basis. For example, in Stu's story arch he suffocates under the demeaning thumb of his fiance in the first movie and then crawls out to be a new man at the end. Well, replace the horrible fiance from the first movie with the future father in law from his new fiance and you have the same story.
Alan was weird in a charming, sort of naive way in the first movie, here he is annoying in the same little boy mode. He starts off as a sympathetic character, but in the course of the movie we have more and more reason to dislike him. He still says and does funny things but the tone is darker and less friendly. In the end, a lot gets forgiven, but it is not quite as clear why in this go round. Phil is still a handsome prick, but a guy you would like to have as a friend simply because he is audacious and demanding. Without him as a catalyst, the other guys would wander in circles and the bachelor party really would be a short stack at IHOP.
As much as the Vegas version of the Hangover was a nightmare scenario for the wolfpack, Bangkok is a darker and more disturbing locale for this bad dream. Everything is a little more twisted and dangerous even though the event sequence seems to follow almost beat per beat the pattern of the first movie. We wake up in a hotel room, check. A wild animal is a part of the story, check. We discover another person is missing, check. In pusuit of that other person we cross paths with, gangsters, hookers, cops and Mr. Chou, check, check, check and check. It all works but not as brilliantly as it did the first time out. I have to admit, that the original Hangover grew on me with each subsequent viewing and I suspect that this version will be the same. There was just so much to take in that I missed things I know I will enjoy more the next time though. It is definitely something I will have to revisit to have a firmer sense of my feelings on the subject.
The first movie finished with a slideshow of pictures that reveals many of the blank spots in the story. This one repeats the trick. If it sounds like a bad idea to use the same rouse as in the first movie, wait until you see the pictures and how they are staged. You will get some of the biggest laughs from the film here, just as you did the first time. So the movie is a carbon copy, but still a very entertaining one with enough laughs and disgusting ideas to make you glad you saw it despite the headache you might have to live with.
Compare the teaser above with the one below. High anticipation.