Thursday, 26 May 2011

The Hangover Part 2 - Dir. Todd Phillips

Same cast. Same setup. Different location. Todd Phillips returns to the directorial chair to helm the sequel to the 2009 comedy hit ‘The Hangover’. After grossing over $450m worldwide from a modest $35m budget, it was inevitable that the boys would be back for another forgettable (for them anyway…) outing. While it doesn’t reach the same joke per minute ratio as the original film did, it does provide enough laughs to keep the audience occupied through the one hour and forty minute running time. However if monkey related humour is not your cup of tea, then the first half of the film will no doubt drag a little for you.

Stu (Ed Helms) has finally found the right woman to marry in Lauren (Jamie Chung), and they head-off to Thailand to get married. As Stu sadly still cannot truly recollect the horrors of their Las Vegas night-out, he opts for a traditional and safe, pre-Wedding brunch instead of an bachelor party. However, yet again things do not go to plan for the ‘Wolfpack’ as Stu, Alan (Zack Galifianakis), and Phil (Bradley Cooper) must attempt to retrace from the previous night’s escapade to find Lauren’s younger brother Teddy (Mason Lee) who joined the boys on their night-out. As the déjà vu sets in, they move from character to character, including the resurrection of high-pitched Leslie Chow (Ken Jeong), and from place to place to try and piece together the forgotten night’s carnage before it is too late. A few famous faces are thrown in for good measure, but their roles do not need to be spoiled here as they are merely cannon fodder aimed at extending the plot for just a few more minutes allowing for an extra sequence to be casually included here and there.

With nothing literally changing aside from the location a few minor plot points (e.g. Stu’s, rather than Doug’s wedding), ‘The Hangover Part 2’ relies solely on the strength of its script and the jokes it will throw at the audience. Phillips, Armstrong and Mazin essentially centre the humour around three key areas; the changing of the character’s normal appearances, the differences and constraints between Western and Asian customs and the actual personality and action of the characters, most notably Alan. Galifianakis is at the centre of the majority of comedic moments, however it is not always what says, but unusually what he does, that creates the laugh-out-loud elements. His little mannerisms and unabashedly reactions both verbal and physical to relatively simply questions are both squirming-ly embarrassing and funny at the same. While both Stu and Phil play second fiddle to Alan’s constant ability to make the wrong comment at the wrong time, but in an entirely innocent, and somewhat childish way. He keeps the film ticking over, especially during the first half of the film’s narrative and during the moments in which shock value tends to creep into the script intending to both cause shock and amusement, yet it tends to create neither.

‘The Hangover Part 2’ is the first film, but set in a different city with a couple more extreme characters and sequences thrown in for good measure. The script is heavily set on propelling shock value over verbal humour, but when the script does eventually kick in during the second half of the film, it provides plenty of hilarious moments that seem to arrive just a little too late. However, it must be noted, that as the narration has been replicated almost plot-point for plot-point it is still worth staying till the very end to view one visual joke that does work perfectly in sync with a movie. It may feel like déjà vu, but photos sometimes tell the whole story (and then some…).
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