A few days ago I wrote a blog where I criticised Home Alone 2: Lost in New York for unimaginatively retreading ground covered in its predecessor, but while The Hangover Part 2 is guilty of the same crime the result is very different, in that I thoroughly enjoyed this film.
This kind of contradiction is quite common in personal tastes, for example, I never liked Steps because they were cheesy and naff pop music, and I guess the same could be said about S Club 7, but yet S Club 7 remain one of my favourite pop acts of all time, this may be due to their lovably cheesy TV shows and the presence of Hannah Spearitt.
Anyway, back to The Hangover Part 2.
The film picks up 2 years after the first with neurotic dentist Stu (Ed Helms) about to get married in Thailand to his Thai fiance (Jamie Chung). Reluctant to repeat the disasters that befell them in Vegas, Stu doesn’t want a bachelor party, much to the annoyance of Phil (Bradley Cooper) and refuses to invite Alan (Zach Galifianakis), although relents when Doug (Justin Bartha) pleads with him due to pressure from his wife.
With the gang reunited they travel to Thailand where Stu’s future father-in-law delivers an insulting toast at the rehearsal dinner. The guys go for 1 beer with Stu’s brother-in-law to be Teddy (Mason Lee), a 16 year old prodigy attending university in the States.
They then wake up in Bangkok, with no memory of the previous night’s events and evidence that it was a wild night. Alan’s head has been shaved, Stu’s got a tattoo on his face and Doug and Teddy are missing. It turns out Doug left early, but Teddy remained with them.
They’ve also picked up a monkey and reunited with Vegas criminal Chow (Ken Jeong) who before being able to reveal what happened appears to drops dead following a line of coke, okay the “appears” may be a plot spoiler, but if watching the film you didn’t realise Chow would pop up again you’re clearly an idiot.
The gang then stumble around the streets of Bangkok attempting to piece together their night and figure out where Teddy is, along the way having to deal with ladyboys, drug dealers, angry locals and an incredibly violent Buddhist monk.
Basically its the same set up and formula as the first flick, with the location changing.
But yet it really works, the jokes come fast and furious, with physical comedy sharing its time with crude one-liners and offensive gags. Its not the kind of humour that everyone likes, but what is? But on me the fast mouthed, sweary guy humour really works.
Sure, none of it the most original and the confusions and problems they face closely resemble the occurences of the first movie, but the film doesn’t shy away from this and there are several “not again…” moments, and they also show that the characters have learnt from their previous experiences, with Phil knowing they should check their pockets immediately for clues.
The only time it feels really forced is Mike Tyson’s cameo at the end which seems painfully as though its been shoe-horned in.
In a way the relocation to Bangkok makes sense, with the city’s rough and grimy feel contrasting with the overblown lights and glamour of Las Vegas. And also it serves to put the characters even further out of their depth and keep them completely confused.
The film really hinges on the central trio- the neurotic, tightly wound Stu, roguish Phil and the awkward, mental, yet oddly endearing Alan.
Alan’s childlike glee at the monkey’s antics and his naivety regarding several aspects of what they encounter is quite endearing, but its the oddball outsider’s devotion and desire to be best friends with Phil and Stu that is the film’s warm heart. Galifianakis’ performance is brilliant, showing wonderful timing and deadpan delivery and perfectly balances Alan’s irritating selfishness and the oddly charming sweetness he displays.
Helms is in many ways the lead, the reluctant groom dragged out by his friends and his tightly wound persona works well, his increasing frustration and bursts of anger bring several laughs.
As Phil, the group’s most confident member, Cooper is in his element, happy to play the scoundrel but also serving as a rallying point for the group, attempting to pacify Stu and keep Alan in line. They also show a softer side as despite losing his cool he shows genuine kindness to Alan, and is more willing than Stu or Doug to reform “the wolfpack.”
I once again felt sorry for Bartha, who has slightly more to do than in the first film, but still remains largely seperate from the action and antics of the guys. He’s now been in two immensely successful comedies, yet his contribution to both is extremely minimum.
The supporting characters all do their roles well- Mason Lee as Teddy conveys the character’s awkwardness around the older, cruder characters and as Stu’s bride to be, Jamie Chung is quite sweet and charming, and playing their father Nirut Sirijanya, is suitably gruff and unpleasant to Stu, providing the film’s major hate figure.
The return of Chow is a nice touch and Jeong’s high pitched, foul mouthed criminal gets some of the biggest laughs of the film. Its a manic, OTT performance of crudeness and offensiveness, yet it works well.
I must admit I enjoyed the inclusion of the monkey that they pick up, I know its hardly sophisticated comedy but monkey’s are inherently amusing, especially this vest wearing, smoking one.
And the scene where they explain why the gangster’s want it back, soundtracked by Curtis Mayfield’s “Pusher Man” was one of my favourite parts of the film.
Like I said the setting really works in this film, the beach where the wedding is due to take place shows Thailand’s beauty while the rest of the film revels in Bangkok’s seedier aspects, although I have to admit part of me really fancies visiting there now.
A daft, crude comedy with some nice touches. 4/5