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The Hangover Part II (2011)
Surprisingly dark tone for a summer comedy
WARNING: THIS REVIEW CONTAINS POSSIBLE SPOILERS!
I just saw "The Hangover Part II" yesterday, which kind of turned out to be a bizarre experience as far as films go. Before I talk about the movie though, I should mention my thoughts on the first one.
"The Hangover" I didn't see the original "Hangover" in theatres. It looked like a typical dumb stoner comedy and it seemed to have the exact same premise and story as "Dude, Where's My Car?", which despite having its moments, was still really stupid. I ended up seeing "The Hangover" at a free screening at school, and I ended up really liking it. That movie is what "Dude, Where's My Car?" should have been like; it's set entirely in reality, the characters are intelligent, likable, and relatable, and it keeps the plot moving. A few of the jokes are awkward and obviously ad-libbed, but "The Hangover" is still overall lighthearted, unpredictable, and funny the whole way through.
"The Hangover Part II" This sequel is a lot like "Home Alone 2", in the sense that it takes the same formula from the first film and just puts it in another, more over-the-top setting. The only differences in the plot are that it has to go to ridiculous lengths to set up the same conflict, and since this is the second time the characters have been in this situation, they keep stopping everything to comment on how they "can't believe it happened again" and wonder why it keeps happening. The opening scene of "The Hangover Part II" is practically a carbon copy of the opening in the original, except Phil is almost in tears because he and the guys screwed up even worse this time. Kind of a bad omen for the rest of the film.
And that's the ultimate problem with this sequel: it tries too hard to outdo the original on an emotional level. This ends up giving Part II a surprisingly dark tone for a summer comedy. For instance, instead of having one of the characters lose a tooth this time around, one of them loses an entire finger. What's more, the severed finger belongs to the character who's gone missinga sixteen-year-old kid, mind youwhich creates a real fear that he might actually be dead. Did you ever honestly think that the missing character in the first movie was dead? I didn't, because the few times that this possibility came up, it was presented in an exaggerated and humorous context.
The whole sequel is crawling with equally unfunny scenes of the main characters getting into heated arguments with each other and even getting shot and injured. Their reactions to everything in this film seem to be of genuine horror instead of comedic panic and confusion, and Stu has an entire subplot where he seriously wonders if deep down he's a sick monster who doesn't deserve to get married and live happily. I'm not against adding drama and character development in a comedy, but doing it this much and then occasionally throwing in a crude joke just leaves the audience with a bipolar film that they don't know what to think of.
Probably the best example of this is a scene where a character from the first movie drops dead in front of Phil, Stu, and Alan. I still don't know if their responses were supposed to be funny or serious; rather than shrieking and running around the room in a clearly humorous manner, we see Phil frantically searching for a pulse, Stu wailing in anguish, and Alan crying. Considering what the dead character was like in the first movie, it doesn't really make sense to give their demise such an unclear tone.
"The Hangover Part II" does have some amusing moments that are worth mentioning though, including a beat-down at the hands of a strict Buddhist monk and a meditation scene where we see how Alan views himself and the other characters. We also learn an interesting fact about Mr. Chow during an elevator scene near the climactic showdown. In the grand scheme of things however, these segments still don't salvage the movie.
Bottom line, "The Hangover Part II" is a painfully contrived, raunchy, and predictable mess. If you're such a huge fan of the original "Hangover" movie that you HAVE to see this one, fine, but it's not worth multiple viewings.