The Hangover II

I watched “The Hangover II” (a.k.a H2) at the multiplex because I wanted to find out how the sequel would stack up next to the original and wildly successful 2009 original, and also because I wanted to be part of the event of watching the movie inside a theatre packed with movie-goers rearing to go.

H2 is an event because it helped launch—together with “Kung Fu Panda 2”—this summer tentpole race early. As of the time of writing this article, box office for H2 was a whopping $ 118,090—now that’s killer coin for a movie that uses a narrative that’s identical to its predecessor.

Both films were directed by Todd Philips (he previously wrote the screenplay for 2006’s “Borat” and directed a number of frathouse-classics like 2009’s “Road trip: Beer Pong” and 2010’s “Due Date” with Zach Galifianakis and Robert Downey, Jr.).

Like the first one, H2 also stars Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms and Galifianakis.

The booze-fueled premise is the same, and that’s what makes the franchise so funny, at least to the 20-30 male set, H2’s target demographic.

Three friends (played by Galifianakis, Ed Helms and Bradley Cooper) get together for a bachelor’s party, they get drunk, black out and turn up in some other, squalid place. The venue has been changed from Las Vegas to Bangkok and the shenanigans have turned out a little darker this time.

Yes, the gags have gone askew, in a simian/she-male kind of way.

‘Hangover II” has a capuchin monkey as the boys’ mascot, and that’s a nice touch, except that it’s hard to know what the monkey is feeling. And H2 made me laugh, but it wasn’t the same kind of laughter as in the first “Hangover.” There are too many moments when you squirm-while-laughing, and scenes that are a lot more risqué, such as when groom-in-waiting Stu (Helms) gets sodomized by a she-male in Bangkok are just a bit strange, if a little too graphic for American comedy material. In the end, raunchy humor wasn’t really the issue—rather, it’s the reverting to predictable gags and worn-out fib like prostitutes and cocaine that’s bothersome.

And there is a lot of cocaine involved.

What happened to the more original “Hangover”? It’s as if, somewhere between the first and second installment of the franchise Marion Barry showed up on Todd Phillips’ doorstep in Los Angeles and ended up sleeping on the couch for a couple months, adding his own notes to the script when everybody went to sleep.

Was it good to stick to the exact same kind of narrative? Pressure-wise, yes. The formula worked wonders the first time around, and why not stick to it again? I wanted it, and you probably did, too. But that drug-dealing monkey, a rioting scene in the streets of Bangkok and a very surprising turn of event in the end which I won’t give away but which tends to set the wrong touch for an ending, all conspire to make “Hangover II” more cower-worthy than LOL funny.

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