Tuesday 31 May 2011

Review: The Hangover: Part 2

Year: 2011
Director: Todd Phillips
Screenplay: Todd Phillips, Craig Mazin, Scot Armstrong
Starring: Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms, Zach Galifianakis

Synopsis is here.

So many lament the predictably of Hollywood (including myself) that we in turn become products of the same pre-determined nature. I really didn't raise too much of an eyebrow when I heard that there was to be a sequel to The Hangover but that may be because the signs were all very clear. I mean how many people were shocked, really?

I don't really condone everything that the big studios do, but there's a certain amount of importance (if your into film) into why. The original film's box office when adjusted for inflation, ranks at #177, it's ranked higher (#49) if not. It made numbers that some movies can only dream of. It had a cast of relative unknowns who  became names due to it's success and it was praised critically (79% based on 214 reviews on Rotten Tomatoes)  as well as commercially. With Hollywood leaning ever more towards the aspect of films as brand over anything else it's a no brainer that despite it's premise being a solid (but underwhelming IMO) that Warner Brothers were going to count it's gains and go for a sequel. Hell, now that the film has opened doors to it's cast , I'm guessing that WB were hedging bets that they could possibly bring in friends of the friends who went to see it the first time.

I really haven't a problem with this. Even if this blog site appears to allude that I do. My only wish is that the film can entertain, amuse and/or inform. The problem is that often with this money talks culture, what is given to the paying audience is lazy retreads. With films being known more for being a franchise or brand there's a good chance that films are now being made on name alone. For myself a recent case of this was Pirates of the Caribbean 4; a film so unbelievably bland, I questioned my feelings on the original film. It's very clear that board entertainment is a big want for modern audiences but after looking at the comments that lie in an article about the films lack of originality  I found myself asking "really?" The idea of a films sequel aping the original almost bit by bit feels not only a redundant but quite simply odd. No change at all? The comments going on about class and taste and how critics "don't know what the public want" (despite what was said about the first film I wrote above), but as a member of the public myself, I do think that there should be SOMETHING that gives a film it's own identity, not just a new title.

Thing is Hangover Part 2 is pretty much the same thing with the new setting (and casual racism) being the only thing that's different. The fact that Phillips' Due Date tread around familiar ground gives this venture a certain tiredness. At least the characters in the hangover films aren't as mean spirited as that film.

But due to the same structure and familiar events it does mean that affection for these guys and their situation is strained. The reason I don't watch soaps is there's only so often you can watch an Ian Beale character have the same mishaps. After a certain amount of time, you just want to punch the guy. There's no one in The Hangover part 2 I want to punch; save for Bradley Cooper's Phil whose ignorance to a different culture is aggressive and unwelcoming. However, due to these characters going through the same paces and pay-off; I had to wonder, why the hell didn't you check there in the first place? The lack of any basic change makes this a sequel of diminishing returns.

This isn't to say I didn't laugh. That's the point of the film and for the price of my ticket, I almost got enough giggles to justify the film's existence. I can't say the same for the almost deathly quiet audience I saw this with (seriously the teenage boys hardly laughed), but there's some throwaway lines and reaction shots that had me grinning. As did a ridiculous meditation sequence that showed how Alan (Galifianakis) viewed himself and his friends. Nothing of the film stood out as truly memorable moments but I still laughed at some of the crudeness and had a bit of fun with some of the absurdity.

Unfortunately that's really it. In the same way I hold the first film as amusing once but oddly quite throwaway, I say the same for this. I laughed a lot less, still only found one sequence to be a bit of a stand out moment and while he was much improved over the original and Due Date, I'm still wondering when Zack Galifiankis is going to be the comic wunderkind many have talked him up to be. Ed Helms is unfortunately diminished and   I honestly don't believe that Paul Giamatti really needs the money that bad. There is a two second cameo by one Mike Tyson but I'm still wondering why there was so much bother over a considered racist and wife beater (Gibson) being in the movie while a convicted rapist like Tyson is considered warm and cuddly. Particulary when The Hangover Part 2 shows just enough contempt at minorities, gays and women to have another argument that the film itself is no angel. That strangely seems to be the biggest surprise of the whole affair.