365 Days, 100 Films #45 – The Hangover Part II (2011)

The Hangover Part II, 2011.

Directed by Todd Phillips.
Starring Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms, Zach Galifianakis, Justin Bartha, Ken Jeong, Jeffrey Tambor, Jamie Chung, Mason Lee, Paul Giamatti, Mike Tyson and Nick Cassavetes.

The Hangover Part 2

You know The Hangover? Yeah, well, it’s that in Thailand.

Not many people dislike The Hangover. We meet in secret once a month. Carol bakes fairy cakes and we all sit and chat. We don’t talk much about The Hangover, nor film in general. We just talk about what we’ve been up to, how we’re getting along. It’s nice to be amongst people who didn’t get it either.

Surely we’re the weirdos, right? We missed a subtlety on that first viewing. Maybe we were in an underwhelmed mood that day. So give Part II a stab. Have a beer before. Go with friends who liked its predecessor. Ease yourself into it.

So the gang go swap Las Vegas for Thailand. They’re all there: Phil (Bradley Cooper), Stu (Ed Helms), Alan (Zach Galifianakis) and Doug (nobody cares – he was the missing person last time round). Even the insufferable Mr. Chow (Ken Jeong – great in Community, but just ghastly in both Hangovers) turns up in this other country. This time it’s Stu’s wedding. He’s the sensible dentist who ironically lost a tooth and married a stripper in the first film. Learning from the previous experience, he doesn’t even want a stag party. So all they do is have a few beers on the Thailand beach the night before the wedding. But their drinks are spiked. Again.

They awake with various things wrong – shaved head, tattooed face, monkey drug dealer – in a sweaty apartment in Bangkok. But most importantly, they are missing the bride’s younger brother. Cue a search around Bangkok to find him, with the uncovered sordid details from the night before acting as clues to his whereabouts. It’s exactly the same template as the first and every review, even those who liked the original, have criticised such laziness.

The cast…

Zach Galifianakis is fantastic, but he always seems underused, like Stifler from American Pie. Unfortunately, as is his character, if he were allowed any more of the film’s focus, the fool’s mystique would crumble – just like American Pie 3. However, he did have a Randy Savage poster in his room, and the film came out shortly after the Macho Man’s unfortunate passing. That gets points. Wrestling’s cool.

Ed Helms is great, and his character almost turns dark. As he desperately nears the wedding’s start time without his fiancée’s brother, but with a tribal tattoo etched on his face, Stu acknowledges that he may have a ‘demon within’ him. The dialogue echoes the nihilism of Very Bad Things, where its immoral characters (which are all of them) end up either dead or deformed. SPOILERS: [Unfortunately, the film swerves with a stupidly happy ending. And a cameo. Mike Tyson, playing himself again, just to complete the mirror image of the first. Originally, Mel Gibson was to play the tattoo artist, but the cast objected to his presence on account of a few recent Gibson-gaffs. But Tyson, a once-convicted rapist, gets approval.]

Bradley Cooper – what’s his appeal? He’s too smug to be a leading man, and he is unbearable throughout Part II. It’s obvious he has lady fans, but you’d have to assume they’re the female equivalent of the idiotic guys who love Megan Fox being in films. Passable as the bad guy in Wedding Crashers, but his current popularity is bewildering.

Paul Giamatti is somehow made boring. He isn’t funny here, and it’s all a little awkward.

The best moment of The Hangover was its end credits, which isn’t as much as a smartarse thing to write as you’d think. Beside the names of those who had worked on the film were photos from the forgotten night. They’re genuinely funny, and it makes you yearn for a film that showed the events depicted in them rather than the narrative you were given. The Hangover: Part II suffers from the exact same realisation. The end photos are funnier than anything in the preceding 100 minutes.

Both Hangovers, no matter how many more sequels they release, or how hard they try, will ever, EVER surpass the modern masterpiece on which it is based. Want a real good hangover film? Watch Dude, Where’s My Car?


Oli Davis

365 Days, 100 Films

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