Tuesday, July 26, 2011

THE HANGOVER 2 - More Of The Same

THE HANGOVER 2 (comedy)
Cast: Bradley Cooper, Zach Galifianakis, Ed Helms, Jamie Chung, Justin Bartha, Tanner Maguire, Ken Jeong, Todd Phillips and Mike Tyson
Director: Todd Phillips
Screenplay by Craig Mazin & Scot Armstrong & Todd Phillips
Time: 102 mins
Rating: * * 1/2 (out of 4)

Ken Jeong, Ed Helms, Zach Galifianakis and Bradley Cooper

PREAMBLE: What happened in Vegas apparently didn't stay in Vegas, as far as the members of this 'Wolf Pack' are concerned. The Hangover (2009) became a huge hit globally. And in Part Two, it is happening all over again - this time around in Bangkok! Right from the opening frames, it is deja vu as we get that fateful call that the wedding may not be happening: someone is gone missing - again.

And if having seen the first film, you have an issue with "the same shit happening to the same guys twice", then you have a problem understanding the title of the movie. However, if you are game for another round of the same shit, this sequel gets more tolerable towards the ending...

SYNOPSIS: The so-called Wolf Pack consists of four pals: Phil (Bradley Cooper), Stu (Ed Helms) Alan (Zach Galifianakis) and Doug (Justin Bartha). Stu is set to marry Lauren (Jamie Chung) in her native Thailand and Lauren's teenage brother Teddy (Mason Lee), joins the 'pack' for the nuptials at a posh beach resort. Mindful of the fiasco in Vegas, Stu wisely skips the bachelor party but a bonfire on the beach on the eve of the wedding ends up with almost similar results.

Phil, Stu and Alan wake up in a seedy Bangkok hotel to discover major changes to their appearances, a monkey in the room (pictured above) and Teddy missing. Of course, they can't remember a thing but what's perplexing is that they find a finger among the mess - and they soon have a get rid of a body before setting out to find Teddy.

HITS & MISSES: A large part of the movie involves a mad rush to find Lauren's brother among the naughty districts of Bangkok. This involves massage and tattoo parlours, and even a Buddhist monastery. The fun of the 'chase', however, is rendered by a new member of the cast - the monkey - who steals the show every time he is on screen. Indeed, the film-makers are so proud of the capuchin's antics that they boast: "When a monkey nibbles on a penis, it is funny in any language!"

Ed Helms and Jamie Chung as bridal couple, Stu and Lauren

The cast do what is expected of them and so we find Ken Jeong reprising his gangsta schtick as 'Mr Chow', a celebrity boxer reprising his guest cameo - and Galifianakis gets more loathsome than ever here. I like the toast of the father of the bride (played by Nirut Sirichanya) who paints a touch of 'Asian culture' in comparing his future son-in-law to a handicapped relative and to 'chok' (rice porridge). Mel Gibson was supposed to play the tattoo artist but he is replaced by Nick Cassavetes who delivers a bland, workman-like performance.

Some scenes, especially those involving transvestites, have been cut but it does not affect the flow of the story which appears badly contrived. I am particularly unhappy about the scene of a monk beating up visitors. But deja vu or not, the writers manage to 'iron out' the plot creases and the movie gets better as the plot unravels. Like in the original, the events of the previous night are explained in 'stills', right to the closing credits and the laughs continue.

THE LOWDOWN: For those who like more of the same.


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