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The Hangover 2 -- Review

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If you could look into a mirror, and see yourself in the exact same way, but situated somewhere completely different, would you think that was pretty cool? The first few times, perhaps; but then after a while, you’re going to start to think ‘that’s great, but what’s the point?’ and there you have my immediate thoughts on the sequel to the massively popular exploits of Phil (Bradley Cooper, Limitless, The A-Team), Stu (Ed Helms, The Office USA), Doug (Justin Bartha, National Treasure) and Alan (Zach Galifinaiakaiakaiakiksiis, Due Date, Youth In Revolt)...minus the ‘great’.

The Hangover 2 sees the group travelling to Thailand (Thighland, as Alan would say) for Stu’s wedding to Lauren (Jamie Chung). Stu is happy with his life now, and can even find it in his heart to invite Alan to the wedding, egged on purposefully by Doug and Phil. The characters are exactly the same as you remember them. Phil is the pretty-boy, always pushing his friends that extra step too far, Stu is the reserved dentist, the guy trying to be the best he can, but always falling short, and Alan....is Alan.

I have absolutely no need to go into detail about the plot, as most people have already seen The Hangover, and I can tell you that nothing has changed whatsoever. The movies are identical, except for the run-down and cramped streets of Bangkok, and a chain-smoking monkey. What’s the point? The success of the first film (though I didn’t think much of it) was down to the shocking and outrageous situations the characters found themselves in – and now it’s pretty much ‘lather, rinse, repeat’. Boring. No doubt it’ll get some laughs, but they won’t be the chimes of raucous laughter that accompanied the first film.

Perhaps they could have taken an even larger risk and turned the film into a sci-fi; the sequel being set in an alternate reality where everything is distorted in a peculiar way. The tiger is now a monkey, Alan loses his hair instead of Stu losing a tooth, the gangsters (and this is the twist that brings in the cash) DO NOT work for Chow in this film. No, they just want their monkey back. At the end, everyone comes together and shares their photo montage, noting the similarities between each other’s crazy drunken antics. Vegas Alan pulls out a toy light-sabre, complete with a Darth Vader voice-over...and Bangkok Alan brings out a real light-sabre, and slaughters them all. That’d be a great twist. Shocking, original, and let’s face it, everyone loves Star Wars.

But no, director Todd Phillips (Old School, Due Date) is content with what he has already achieved and the film resembles this refusal to explore other possibilities, other outcomes. It’s lazy film-making and I don’t see why he bothered. The film only started filming in October last month, somewhere in the world James Cameron is shaking his head.

Another thing that remains a mystery to me is Doug. I understand his role in the first film, and as the groom, it’s his disappearance that motivates the others to search heaven and hell to find him, and bring him back in time for his wedding. Yet, once again, in the sequel, he’s forced to sit on the side-lines, watching the others. Again, isn’t there room to experiment there? Why not throw Doug into the mix, give Justin Bartha a go at doing something a little different. As funny as the three blokes can be together, it’s all very formulaic (I hate that word, but it’s true). Thankfully, Phillips does conform to the popularity vote, and brings back Leslie Chow, played by the very able and American Ken Jeong. Yes, his portrayal can be seen as racist, insulting, homophobic, stereotypical, but he gets most of the laughs in this movie and deservedly so. I’d advise people to give his sit-com Community a watch as it is arguably the best comedy on TV at the moment (I said arguably...). Mike Tyson's cameo is instantly forgettable and I'm not saying anymore on the matter. He doesn't deserve it.

Overall, this film is a pitiful attempt at milking the cash cow – it’s entertaining if you liked the first film, and are happy to sit through the same crude, and ridiculous jokes that were offered, but you’re not going to get much out of it. There’s very little substance and its idea of shock comedy are way off in terms of actually being funny. Good comedies don’t need to be smart, but in contemporary cinema, they need to be slightly more innovative, and eschewing this in exchange for more of the same will only get you so far. The Hangover 2 lives up to it’s name – it’s the thumping head-ache of a movie representing the morning after. It’s not fun at all.


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