Pop Culture

The Hangover II: a giant headache

The Hangover I was a pleasant surprise. Although I saw it by accident after missing my intended movie’s showtime, for the next few months I could easily quote some of the best parts of that movie.

But the Hangover II? Hugely disappointing. Judging by the crowd gathered outside the theater, waiting for it to open so they could scramble for the best seats, a LOT of people were looking forward to this movie. Myself included. Imagine my surprise when instead of busting a gut for the next two hours, I found myself glancing down at my watch more than once.

Where to begin? The first Hangover was successful for a number of reasons, namely its memorable characters (Chang, Mike Tyson, a pair of sadistic Vegas cops, the sweet-faced hooker, black Doug, Allan, a baby, and a tiger, to name a few….) and unusual plot (backtracking through a wild night of wiped-out memories to find a lost friend, for the one person in America who hasn’t seen it). It makes sense that the studio would want to build on its success with a second movie. So far so good. But what did they do with the material that had made the first movie successful in the first place?

They got rid of it. Instead of using their writers to come up with a new, interesting ensemble to complement the core cast of guys, they simply invited everyone back for an inane cameo or two. The new characters (there were about four) did not play any major roles and had no interesting lines. Rather than develop the potential of both the new and old characters, the writers chose to rely on the same old one-trick pony.

Plotwise, the second movie could have been mapped directly onto the first with little to no deviation. Bangkok is definitely not Las Vegas, but it felt the same (minus a few obligatory shots of lovely waterways and a Buddhist temple). The most painful part was the ending of the movie, which (spoiler alert!) tracked the first movie word for word.

Did I laugh? Sure, once or twice. There are a couple of cheap gags designed to guarantee a chuckle. Zach Galifianakis is perhaps the one redeeming feature of this movie, although I would argue that he is in danger of being trapped in this sort of perpetual man-child character (featured in both Hangover movies, Due Date, etc.). However, in the end…

One and a half stars. Don’t waste $11 on this movie. Wait for it to come out for rental–or better yet, just pop in the Hangover I again.

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