Friday 27 May 2011

157: Review - The Hangover Part II

CAUTION: Yen's blog contains harsh language and even harsher notions of propriety. Reader discretion is advised.

The Hangover Part II
27 May 2011. Location: Cinema

Now you know there's been some serious focus-grouping when the ads before a film are all geared towards a specific audience. Selecting appropriate trailers is more common sense; you want to appeal to the punters who have paid to see this movie, so your trailers will likely be the same sort of movie. And there are some ads that play no matter what the film (the current Red Bull / Zebra one, for example).

But just to give you an idea how confident Warner Bros and Cineworld are of the makeup of the Hangover II audience, here's a complete list of the products that were advertised (although not in this order) before the trailers:

Energy drinks: Red Bull, Relentless, Lucozade Energy
Alcohol: Peroni, Budweiser, Bacardi
Video games: Brink, Rage
Deodorant: Lynx

And that was it. Nothing for the ladies. If you're a female and you're watching this in the cinema, the ad-folks don't expect you to be there. I'm not surprised or outraged by this, by the way, it's just not usually this transparent. Anyway, I was reviewing a film, wasn't I?

The rest of this piece will be pretty much exactly what you expect. This is largely because Hangover II, as a film, is pretty much exactly what you expect. The team of Bradley Cooper's Phil, Ed Helms' Stu, and Zach Galifianakis' Alan are back together once more, in a movie that bears more than a striking resemblance to the first installment. It's not bad at all, but there's certainly nothing new here. But then, how much new do you need?

Well, in the first movie, while you 'kind of' knew that the guys would find Doug and make the wedding at the end, there was a freshness in his near-total absence from the film. It was plausible that he may have found his own way home, or even not have turned up at the end. Once he did surface, the formula was balanced and audience-expectation restored. With the second film following the template of the first so closely, when Mason Lee's Teddy goes missing, there's no real tension there (even though we're told early on that he's missing a finger). You know everything will work out alright in the end, so all that's left to do is sit back and enjoy the somewhat formulaic ride.

The Good:
For the most part, Zach Galifianakis steals the show as the eccentric Alan, and I particularly liked his meditation-induced flashback, in which he pictures the events of the previous evening with him and his best friends played by 12yr old boys, surrounded by adults. This is genuinely how he sees 'the wolf-pack', and props go to Zach for portraying a borderline-insane character with such humour and sweetness. With perhaps the exception of the part I'll mention later.

The Bad:
The photo-montage over the closing credits, as before, has some brilliant shots of the guys' missing-hours. But whereas in the first movie, it was used to visually illustrate some of the things they'd discovered and fill in the rest, this time round it feels like it's being used to tie up all the loose plot-ends they didn't remember to put in the script (how Teddy lost his finger, for example).
There's also some unnecessarily heavy language in the first 20 minutes of the film, which seems like it's been put there to get the certificate up to a 15 and lend the film more 'credibility' (much like Your Highness and Hall Pass in that regard). The effing-and-jeffing continues throughout the film, only at a lessened place, and more suitable to the situations the characters find themselves in. Again, I'm not being prudish at the language, but it just doesn't fit the scenes early on.

The Ugly:
In the first act, where Zach is ramping-up the mentalness of Alan, his character takes an instant (and for the most part unexplained) dislike to Stu's future brother-in-law, Teddy. This is because he has highly warped social-skills, and sees Teddy as an intruder into the "wolfpack" formed in the first movie. This isn't really explained at the time, though, and as the main cast are Caucasian and Teddy is Asian, Alan just comes off as being a bit of a racist. A couple of 'Chinese' comments later on almost seem to reinforce this, but by the time they finally find Teddy trapped in an elevator, all seems to be forgotten, even if there's no real reconciliation between the two. It's probably just me being a wooly-liberal, but it seems out-of-kilter with the rest of the movie, especially as none of the characters mention it.

All in all:
IT'S VERY GOOD, if a little samey. In terms of blokey, gross-out comedy, it's still head and shoulders above the competition, thanks largely to the cast. Personally, I enjoyed it, but I think a third movie would be stretching the concept (even though it'll probably be on the way).

You'll like this as much as you did (or didn't) The Hangover. Make of that what you will.


• ^^^ That's dry, British humour, and most likely sarcasm or facetiousness.

• This is a personal blog. The views and opinions expressed here represent my own thoughts (at the time of writing) and not those of the people, institutions or organisations that I may or may not be related with unless stated explicitly.

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