The Hangover – Part Two (Film Review)

I never got around to seeing the first hangover, so this is one party that is new to me. Even having not seen the first film, this seems to be a very similar film. From hearing and reading about the first film, what we have was a film about a group of 30-something men trying to get to a wedding in Las Vegas while trying to locate their missing friend in time. Part two is the same film only in Thailand. This is one of the greatest gripes with the film from reading around. It seems that having not seen the first film puts me in a unique position as it allows me to look at the hangover part 2 with fresh eyes and without the preconceived cynicism that was born from expectations built up from the original film.

Stu (Ed Helms) is getting married and much to the annoyance of Phil (Bradley Cooper) it is in Thailand. He is eventually coaxed around into coming to the wedding. The other member of the wolf pack from the original Alan (Zach Galifianakis) is kicking up a fuss because he has heard about the wedding even though he hasn’t been invited. That is resolved as you would expect and the wolf pack head off to Thailand for the wedding. What starts off as a few beers on the beach with Stu’s soon to be brother-in-law ends up with Alan, Stu and Phil waking up in a squalid room in Bangkok, and this time its Stu’s fiancées brother, Teddy that is missing, “it happened again”.

The Hangover part 2 is a film about the crazy things that a bunch of friends got up to while they were partying in Bangkok, but it soon develops into something that doesn’t  fit. As a slacker comedy you can’t really fault the film, it does everything it needs to be to be funny thanks to its marriage of confusion and the surreal. As surreal as the adventure is in patching together the earlier night, the film also throws in a healthy bit of racism. This isn’t the playful and harmless racism; this is the sort of racism that teeters into the offensive all too often. The offensive presents itself the reprisal of Ken Jeong’s role as Chow and the globally known lady-boys who are represented here in the sort of grotesque fashion that you would expect to find in some American teenage gross-out comedy. I know I never seen the first one and I was far from expecting to enjoy this film, but still, I expected it to be far less occupied with the gutter.

The film as a standalone project is more than consistent enough for me to consider it funny, even in sight of the racism and occasional lack of taste. There is one scene which truly steals the show though. About midway through the film the wolf pack find themselves in a monastery and they are told by one of the senior monks that all memories exist somewhere no matter how deep they are hidden. Nobody can do this except Alan, the following scene goes into his head where he plays back all the events since he was invited to the wedding only acted out by kids. It’s an inspired and memorable scene.

What didn’t stand the film in such good stead was the way the story developed. As I have mentioned, as a slacker comedy the Hangover, part 2 worked. It is unfortunate then that the writers had other plans in store for this film. The film changes from a surrealist comedy into a film that incorporated crime into its vernacular. This influences a great deal of the second half of the films narrative and although it provided some great moments and a nice chase scene, it was in the slower moments during the second half of the film that things really left a lot to be desired. This is at its true come the film’s end, where we have the laziest conclusion to any missing person’s story I have seen on either the big or small screen.

Even with this being the case, it doesn’t ruin the film as much to the contradiction of the original films massive following, this is a film about the relationship between three friends and not the titular hangover. First up is Phil, played by Bradley Cooper. He is the straight man of the trio as he plays the level head which the other two are completely lacking. Then there is Stu played by Ed Helms, a man who provided the annoyance for me both pre and post watch. His job in the trio is to be the squawking mother hen who has lost her eggs. He makes noise and shouts, “what’s going on!?” a lot, it’s not big, it’s not clever, but most importantly of all, it’s not funny. This act got annoying as early as the advertising campaign. I never thought that these words would ever come to mind, but it is up to Zach Galifianakis to give the comic drive for the film. I never thought I would sing the praises of someone so seemingly lacking in talent or ability and the star of so many bad films. Yet he was the funniest part of the hangover, part 2. Galifianakis plays the man-child in a way that Hollywood rarely seems to be able to do in recent times.

Judging the film on its own credits, The Hangover part 2 is a good watch that may sag in the second half but it provides enough for me to say I enjoyed it. It made me laugh enough to call it a funny film and this is not what I expected at any point leading up to seeing this film. It may not be a great film, but it defied my expectations. Maybe now I should give the first film a look.

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