"I can't believe this is happening again!" --Stu
Note: In the following joint Blu-ray review, both John and Will provide their opinion of the film, with John also writing up the Video, Audio, Extras, and Parting Shots.
The Film According to John:
In 2009 Warner Bros. produced "The Hangover," a comedy that won over moviegoers and critics alike, making about a gazillion dollars at the box office and ensuring a sequel to follow. I was probably the only person in the country who found the film grossly stupid, offensive, and dull. Unlike everyone else, I could find little humor in the juvenile antics of Phil (Bradley Cooper), a schoolteacher who stole money from his students; Stu (Ed Helms), an ultraconservative dentist so henpecked his girlfriend wouldn't let him leave the house without a bottle of Rogaine; Alan (Zach Galifianakis), a convicted child molester and designated moron; and Doug (Justin Bartha), a groom who got dead drunk and passed out the day before his wedding. In the first adventure they all got so loaded during a Las Vegas bachelor party, they couldn't remember what they had done the night before except that they had lost Doug and needed to retrace their steps to find him. Also, we found Jeffrey Tambor as the future father-in-law, Heather Graham as a charming hooker, Mike Epps as an amusing drug dealer, Ken Jeong as an effeminate gangster, and Mike Tyson as himself showing up to give the film a little life. For me, it still didn't help.
In 2011's "The Hangover Part II" almost the same gang of dimwits, minus Graham and Epps, are up to the same shenanigans, with Thailand substituting for Vegas. Even director Todd Phillips ("Frat House," "Road Trip," "Starsky & Hutch"), who did the first "Hangover," is back for more bad news, aided by a monkey who upstages all of them. The story repeats everything I didn't like about the first movie. If at first you succeed, try, try again. And probably again.
This time out, it's Stu's turn to get married. He's marrying a young woman whose parents live in Thailand, so that's where the friends head for the wedding. Just before the blessed day, the guys, including the bride's younger brother Teddy (Mason Lee), a sixteen-year-old Stanford premed student, enjoy a single beer on the beach of a resort, and it leads to the inevitable. They wake up the next morning in a cheap hotel room in the middle of Bangkok. Alan finds his head shaved. Stu has a Mike Tyson tattoo. And the only thing left of Teddy is his finger. So, it's deju vu all over again, the fellows spending the rest of the film trying to figure out, "Mememto" like, how they got there and what happened to the younger brother.
Then they find a very live monkey and a very dead Mr. Chow in the room with them. Oh, what to do? What to do?
My notes read as follows:
17 min.: No laughs.
27 min.: Still no laughs.
37 min.: Now eventually you do plan to have some comedy in your comedy movie, right?
77 min.: I can't believe I haven't laughed once.
Grossness, vulgarity, profanity, nudity, idiocy. But no laughs.
Phil is as studly as ever. Stu is as squeamish and emotional as ever. Alan is as moronic as ever, but this time he's meaner and stupider. And Doug hardly shows up. After a while, Paul Giamatti surfaces for a moment as a tough guy, and Mike Tyson sings a song. No kidding. We hardly care.
John's film rating: 3/10
The Film According to Will:
Sequels can go two ways. The creators can take the story in a completely different direction than the original film and risk alienating audiences, who might complain they lost sight of what made the first installment so successful. The sequel could also stick closely to the plot structure of its predecessor and risk fans complaining that the filmmakers are simply recycling ideas. "The Hangover Part II" is guilty of the latter, a sequel that rigidly follows the same formula of its 2009 forerunner.
The Wolfpack is back for another round of drunken revelry. Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms, and Zach Galifianakis return as the three best friends anyone could have. In his own words, Stu (Helms), the straightlaced dentist is still trying to put the fragile pieces of his psyche back together following the strange events in Las Vegas. He's not taking any chances now that it's his turn to get married. Unfortunately, it is not to the stripper from the first film. "Part II" earns its first strike with the exclusion of Heather Graham's sweet-natured Jade. There are only passing references to their relationship as Stu is getting hitched to a pretty young Asian named Lauren (Jamie Chung). We learn absolutely nothing about their romance because it only exists as a flimsy excuse to take the protagonists to Thailand.
Stu is reluctantly convinced to have a round of beers on the beach with his pals and future brother-in-law, Teddy (Mason Lee, son of director Ang Lee), a premed student and child prodigy. Faster than you can say, "Here we go again," Stu, Phil (Cooper), and Alan (Galifianakis) wake up the following morning in a sweltering Bangkok hotel room with no recollection of how they got there. Alan's head is shaved bald, Stu has a tribal tattoo plastered on his face, and there's a Capuchin monkey wearing a denim jacket. Even worse, there's no sign of Teddy save for his finger and Stanford class ring. Once more, the gang must follow a trail of bread crumbs that takes them through seedy back alleys, dens of iniquity, and a Buddhist monastery.
Sound familiar? It should since director Todd Phillips and company have essentially remade the same exact picture. The sequel begins in a similar fashion to the first picture. Phil makes a defeated phone call to Doug's wife, Tracy (Sasha Barrese), followed by an opening credits sequence set to Danzig and a frantic search through the city for their missing friend. The end credits are a near carbon copy of the earlier "Hangover" with a series of photos of their wild night as Flo Rida rings through the theater. Even Mike Tyson returns for a cameo though he sings a different 80's hit tune (Murray Head's "One Night in Bangkok," natch). Ken Jeong also returns as the effeminate gangster, Mr. Leslie Chow. This time, he's a member of the wedding party, invited as Alan's plus one. A little Ken Jeong goes a long way. He can be funny in small doses, such as his recurring role on NBC's "Community." Unfortunately, Phillips didn't get the memo and Jeong's routine is too forced and grating to be amusing.
Without Chow as an antagonist, the Wolfpack run into another mobster played by Paul Giamatti as well as a pair of Russian drug dealers. Giamatti isn't known for giving a bad performance, and he's great for the brief time he has in the movie. Actor/director Nick Cassavetes also makes a quick appearance as a tattoo artist, a role that generated a lot of press before the movie's release. Mel Gibson was originally set for the character before negative reaction from members of the cast and crew put the kibosh on it. Gibson was replaced by Liam Neeson, who was unable to reprise the role when Phillips needed to reshoot the scene. Considering the revolving door of actors, you'd think the character would be noteworthy. Instead, he's there simply to divulge vital exposition to get the boys to their next destination.
Because the screenplay by Craig Mazin and Scot Armstrong is so concerned with adhering to the plot structure of its predecessor, it forgets that the budding friendship of the leads was the backbone of "The Hangover." Not that the protagonists have grown much. Bradley Cooper is the same as the group's overgrown frat boy. Zach Galifianakis has some of the movie's funniest lines, but his Alan has lost some of the eccentric charm since last we saw him. He's more annoying than childlike and just a bit disturbing. Of the main trio, Ed Helms probably fares the worst. Helms has some good scenes in the first half of the film, but eventually regresses to screaming and flailing his limbs about. The jokes also regress to a series of tasteless and uninventive gags that exist purely for shock value. I'm sure the Thailand Board of Tourism will be excited to see their country depicted as a haven for violent drug dealers, underage prostitution, and she-male strippers.
John J. Puccio gave "The Hangover" a 4/10, calling it "bland" and "juvenile," amongst other things. I may lose my cinephile credentials when I say I enjoyed it. "The Hangover" may have been a vulgar farce appealing to the lowest common denominator, but I was thoroughly entertained and would rate it a 7. I can't say the same for "The Hangover Part II." Despite a few chuckles, the sequel is a witless rehash full of lazy, gross-out humor.
"The Hangover" was a surprise smash hit for Warner Brothers. Thanks to good word of mouth, it went on to become the highest grossing R-rated comedy ever, shattering a record long held by "Beverly Hills Cop." Despite severe critical drubbing, "The Hangover Part II" opened with over $100 million on Memorial Day weekend, guaranteeing a threequel will go into production. Just how many times can the same idiots get s—tfaced before they finally learn their lesson?
Will's film rating: 4/10
The Warner Bros. video engineers use a dual-layer BD50 and an MPEG-4/AVC codec to reproduce the movie on Blu-ray in its full aspect ratio, 2.40:1. Despite what may seem like excellent care in the transfer, the picture doesn't look all that good. The colors are very dark and deep, much too dark and much too deep for reality, making me wonder if the engineers intentionally wanted it to look that way; I don't know. Definition is OK but not outstanding, and the image overall looks a tad soft and rough. A modicum of natural film grain, however, does give the picture a film-like appearance.
Using lossless 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, WB's engineers do what they can to replicate a lackluster soundtrack that runs high to pounding bass notes. Indeed, the music is often so loud it actually obscures the dialogue, and the only sounds coming from the surround speakers appear to be traffic noises and a touch of musical bloom.
The extras include the usual suspects: First, there's an "Unauthorized Documentary," twenty-five minutes long, a fake-comic behind-the-scenes making-of segment that's more interesting than the movie it covers. Next is "The Comedy Rhythm of Todd Phillips," seven minutes on the director; followed by "Not Your Everyday Monkey," three minutes on Crystal the monkey, who steals the show; "Bangkok Tour with Mr. Chow," three minutes with Ken Leong showing us the city; "Action Mash-up," about a minute of action scenes from the film; and a gag reel, five minutes of outtakes.
Because this is a Combo Pack, it includes a Blu-ray disc, a DVD, and an UltraViolet Digital Copy. You'll recall that an UltraViolet Digital Copy provides a standard-definition version of the movie you can instantly stream anywhere. In addition, there are twelve scene selections; English, French, Spanish, and Portuguese spoken languages; French, Spanish, and Portuguese subtitles; English captions for the hearing impaired; and BD-Live access. The two discs come housed in a flimsy double Eco-case.
Will didn't like the film very much, and I liked it even less. Since he got to it first, I'll accede to his 4/10 film rating rather than my 3/10. But I think it's giving "The Hangover Part II" the benefit of the doubt. Nevertheless, if you liked the first movie, you're liable to like the second one; it's the same film.
"It happened again." --Phil