Thursday, June 2, 2011

Movie Review: The Hangover Part II

When Todd Phillips gave us The Hangover two years ago it caught us off-guard. No one was expecting a movie with relatively no-name actors to catch fire and become a cult classic like it did. Phillips found the perfect mix of humor, slapstick and raunchy content with a twist of reliving a night gone wrong through bumbling investigation. Now that the inevitable Hangover Part II has hit theaters, we as the audience need to instantly compare the sequel to the original.

Most reviewers are panning this follow-up film and are complaining that the plot is so similar to the first movie (with just a change of scenery from Vegas to Thailand) that the filmmakers and actors are just going through the motions here. After seeing the movie myself I totally disagree. Sure we get more of the same with a drunken night, flashbacks and some investigative work by the Wolfpack (Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms and Zach Galifianakis), but when the jokes work so well and the actors feed off each other perfectly, is more of the same really that bad?

This time around, the usual suspects from the first movie head to Thailand for the wedding of Stu (Helms). Once again, the gang gets drugged in some way (I won't reveal how) and they wake up with no recollection of the night of debauchery they just experienced. While the originality of the original Hangover is lost in this sequel, we get even better chemestry between the main characters. The three leads really do make it seem that they're life-long friends and you find yourself rooting for them to get out of the bind they find themselves in. All three actors are likable and thankfully Phillips gave more for Galifianakis to chew on in this film. His performance as Alan is genius and he has some of the best lines in the movie. Cooper does his part again as the straightest member of the Wolfpack, while Helms once again brings his nice-guy Andy Bernard routine to the big screen. Add in another strong supporting turn by Ken Jeong and an interesting and effective addition in Paul Giamatti and the cast is really what makes The Hangover II work.

Phillips and company upped the ante in terms of getting away with just as much as an R rating would allow. There are a couple cringe-worthy scenes with Stu and some Thai prostitutes that really take the raunchy humor over-the-top. I found myself laughing way more than I thought I would (after reading other more critical reviews like this one). This movie is really geared only towards fans of the first movie. If you haven't seen the original, rent that before watching this one. If you have seen the original, go to your local theater, sit back and enjoy the ride. Don't get so caught up in the fact that several of the scenes are so similar to the first film. Phillips and his cast of jokers had the right idea with this sequel. If it ain't broke, don't fix it. The formula works (I could even see myself enjoying a third installment) and The Hangover Part II gets 4 out of 5 JRs from me (complete with a new JR representative). Right up there with Bridesmaids as the funniest movie of the year.