The Hangover Part II (Warner Bros. Pictures, R)

I don’t recall hating a movie so strongly since Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen. The Hangover Part II is lazy, stupid, racist, and not remotely funny.



I went into the original Hangover expecting to like it—I like some of director Todd Phillips’ previous films (Old School, for example), it had a great cast, and it was purportedly going to be the breakout role for Zach Galifianakis, one of our most talented stand-up comedians of whom I had long been a fan. Possibly because of my high hopes I wound up not liking The Hangover, which I thought was structured very cleverly but had too many dumb jokes and failed scenes to really live up to its potential. I haven’t seen The Hangover since that first time two years ago, but I think if I went back to it now with expectations in check I would like it more, though I doubt I would like it half as much as most people in the world seem to.

Going into The Hangover Part II I was expecting to not like it, given that it’s a tacked-on, cash-in sequel to a film I didn’t really care for in the first place. But as the time of the press screening approached, it occurred to me that I might be able to get into it—it still has a great cast, Todd Phillips is still at the helm, and my expectations are much lower this time around. Sadly, I could not have been more wrong about this possibility. I don’t recall hating a movie so strongly since Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen. The Hangover Part II is lazy, stupid, racist, and not remotely funny.

Where the original had a clever conceit for a plot (essentially applying the structure of a mystery to a broad comedy), this time around the plot feels illogical and forced, with many, many scenes that really require you to suspend your disbelief to get the so-called “wolfpack” back together and with collective amnesia again. Stu (Ed Helms) is getting married to a girl named Lauren (Jamie Chung) in Thailand, where she’s from. While it is implied that Part II takes place pretty shortly after the events of the first film, they don’t bother to try to explain how Stu and Lauren got together or got so serious right away. Remember, Stu is the one with the most baggage in the way of wives and fiancées behind him, so it feels like at least some explanation is needed for the hastiness of their nuptials. Stu invites Phil (Bradley Cooper, more likeable here than he was in the first) and Doug (Justin Bartha, previously the lost groom), and Doug begs Stu to invite Alan (Galifianakis), who of course no one likes or trusts but who had the time of his life in the first film and considers Stu, Phil, and Doug his best friends. Stu agrees (?), and the team is rounded out by Lauren’s little brother Teddy (Mason Lee), a 16-year old genius who is the pride of the family and whom Alan immediately dislikes. We get to the scenario made familiar in the first film when this group agrees to have a beer around a campfire on the beach in Thailand two nights before the wedding, Alan brings drugged marshmallows intended for Teddy, and everyone eats them. Don’t ask why any of them would eat anything Alan brought when they’re so paranoid of getting roofied that they put a napkin over their orange juice in IHOP even when Alan isn’t around, for fear of a Part II-type situation taking place.

Of course the boys wake up the next morning with no memory in a weird hotel room in Bangkok; Stu has gotten a Mike Tyson face tattoo, there’s a monkey in a denim jacket running around, and Teddy and Doug are missing. The rest of the film has them trying to piece together the events of the night before by running around Bangkok, which is basically depicted as nothing but drug dens, monasteries, and strip clubs, and populated only by drug dealers, monks, chicks with dicks, and sellers of children. Hilarious!

One hypocrisy of The Hangover Part II that stands out above all others is the much-documented controversy over Mel Gibson’s original involvement in the film. In a bit of stunt casting, he was originally set to play the tattoo artist who Tysonifies Stu, until someone or a group of someones on the set made clear that they refused to work with such an outspoken anti-Semite and misogynist (the role was first recast with Liam Neeson, then recast again with Nick Cassavetes, the director of The Notebook). And yet, for the second film in a row, Mike Tyson plays pretty prominently here, and is portrayed both as himself and affectionately. Uh, did everyone forget that this guy’s a convicted rapist? And what kind of people are the filmmakers trying to celebrate here, giving roles to people like Mel Gibson and Mike Tyson? It’s unnecessary, because at least two of the three main actors (Helms and Galifianakis) are very legitimately funny and don’t need bullshit stunt cameos to get the yuks.

Ninety minutes worth of jokes about the average breast size of Asians or competitive Asian parents, glaring product placement, and jokes recycled from the first film that weren’t funny in the first place—with only two instances where I laughed at all (both throwaway references; one an explanation of a bank account password and the other one of the dozens of prerequisite photos that play over the end credits), and we’re finally at the end. And I’m at the end, too; I can only imagine that we’ll get a third one of these, but I can’t imagine I’ll be able to get myself to see it. | Pete Timmermann


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