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Friday, May 27, 2011

The Hangover Part II (Release Date: 5-26-2011)

        The Hangover Part II was destined for a critical drubbing from the start. Incase you're not the type to keep up with what critics are saying, the Wolfpack's newest adventure in drunken debauchery has been met with some less-than-stellar reviews. And while many writers have bemoaned it for being less laugh-out-loud hilarious than the first film, that's no where near their primary complaint. I've read it described as a number of things: A carbon copy, more of a remake than a sequel, the most profitable game of mad-libs ever played, and so on. Point is, it's an awful lot like the first one.

        The fact that The Hangover Part II shares identical DNA with The Hangover is... well... a fact. We once again open with a credit-inclusive montage of our eventual location (Bangkok), similarly set to some dreary tune. This time around, it's Stu (Ed Helms) who's getting married, and we see him interact with his besties Phil (Bradley Cooper) and Doug (Justin Bartha) in real-world settings before being reintroduced to Alan (Zach Galifianakis), infantile, insane, and still living under his parents' roof. Then the boys are off to Thailand, and despite Stu's protests, the Four of them, with Stu's brother-in-law-to-be, head to the beach for just one beer (just one beer!) a couple nights before the big ceremony. But one beer isn't really how the Wolfpack rolls, and we once again rejoin them in a crumby, trashed hotel, sans both their memory of the previous night, and Stu's impending family. Let the most absurd and crude detective game ever conceived RESUME!!!

        One thing that can easily and immediately be said about The Hangover Part II is that it won't be recruiting any new fans. The humor and tone of the first one has been carefully transplanted into the new installment, albeit with a slightly darker tint. If you were charmed by the cast the first time, Cooper's wannabe hot-shot badass, Helm's endearing straight-man, and Galifianakis' broad and twisted gag, they play along just as nicely here. Director Todd Phillips retains his status as the mainstream comedy helmsman most interested in aesthetics, his Bangkok grimy and teeming with colors and life. What's better, he's still got a firm grasp on the pace of the thing, letting his leads dominate the funny instead of drowning them in background music and minor characters.

        But no matter how much praise one could throw at the thing, The Hangover Part II has an undeniably, 'been-there, done-that,' feel to it. I for one didn't really need them to reinvent the wheel on a Hangover sequel (and also think that the Carbon-Copy tag is kind of an overstatement), but the sameness of Part II takes away from the, 'event-movie,' feeling that we were all hoping for. Rather than a product that only comes around every couple years, needing to be cherished each time out, the movie feels like yet another episode of a show that you know and love, and that's saying something considering it's only the series' first sequel. But know and love are the opportune words here, and if you were hoping for another sordid escapade, and don't mind feeling a little deja vú, The Hangover Part II ain't a half bad night at the flicks.

Grade: B-

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