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Friday, May 27, 2011

The Hangover Part II

The biggie this week: The return of the "Wolfpack" in a new adventure that's almost exactly the same as the first one. Needless to say, though, it's far from the best film of the week.

From Artslink (Originally posted 27 May 2011)

If the first Hangover film was – and bear with me for a moment here – a steaming hot pizza straight out of the oven, then its follow up is that same pizza warmed up the next day. It's edible enough but it kind of makes you forget what was so great about it in the first place.

If you think this culinary metaphor is pushing it a bit then you clearly haven't seen The Hangover Part II. The Hangover Redux more like it. It's not a particularly terrible film or anything but it is so unnervingly similar to the original (and, it has to be said, to the various R-rated men-behaving-badly comedies that have come out since) that it can't help but feel tired, worn out and, frankly, really rather unnecessary.

Yes, the setting is different and, yes, the bad taste comedy is in even worse taste - though not any funnier for it – but the story, character beats and, most damningly, many of the jokes are all much the same as before. Director, Todd Philips, even shoehorns in an entirely befuddling Mike Tyson cameo, seemingly just to drive home once again just how unwilling he is to deviate from that winning formula.

The plot involves – and stop me if this seems familiar – a bunch of friends getting together on the eve of the wedding of one of their members and waking up the next morning to find that they can't remember the events of the night before and that one of them have gone missing. Sure, there are a few differences – it takes place in Thailand rather than Las Vegas, it's a different member of the so-called wolf-pack getting married and the person who goes missing is the groom's brother in law rather than the groom himself, but the two Hangover films really are this similar.

So why, you might rightly ask, bother? Honestly, you might as well not. It's perfectly enjoyable and some of the gags are still amusing enough but it's hard to justify spending R50 on a film that you've essentially already seen. Especially one that demonstrably doesn't hold up to repeat viewings.

More than just once again proving just how creatively bankrupt Hollywood so often is, Hangover II goes some way towards cementing the idea that the best American comedy out there right now is not in our cinemas but on our TVs. Since the release of The Hangover, three of its stars have gone on to star or co-star in some really great TV comedies. As I sat there watching these actors doing their now-tired schtick, it became harder and harder to shake off the feeling that not only are Zach Galifianakis (Bored to Death), Ken Jeong (Community) and Ed Helms (The Office) infinitely better in their respective TV roles, the shows they appear in make The Hangover Part II look like the warmed-up tosh it so obviously is.

If you're really in the mood for a night out at the cinema with some decent laughs and familiar faces then, yes, by all means give The Hangover Part II a shot, but otherwise you may as well just whip out the original Hangover on DVD. Or, much better yet, line up a row of Community or The Office episodes and see what great American comedy truly looks like.

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