Film and TV

Reviews For The Easily Distracted:
The Hangover Part II

Title:The Hangover Part II

Word Is There's A Lot More Cock In This One... Really? Is that the rumbling on the street? Tell me, where does one discuss the amount of dong in a movie? Book club? Catholic Singles Night?

Rating Using Random Objects Related To The Film:

Two tastefully naked Michelangelo's "Davids" out of five.

Tagline: "The Wolfpack Is Back."

Better Tagline: "Second Verse, Same As The First."

Brief Plot Synopsis: Recidivist bachelor partiers wake the next morning (in Bangkok) to find one of their group missing and no memory of the prior evening's events.

Does Mike Tyson Return? Given how the trailer (and the film itself, for that matter) for Part II mirrors the original almost shot for shot, what do you think?

Not So Brief Plot Synopsis: There's another wedding coming up. This time, dentist Stu (Ed Helms) is tying the knot with Lauren in Thailand (I guess things fell through with Heather Graham). Friends Phil (Bradley Cooper), Doug (Justin Bartha) and Alan (Zack Galifianakis) fly in as well, and just when it seems like a quiet pre-wedding night on the beach is in the offing, the members of the erstwhile Wolfpack awaken once more (in Bangkok) to evidence of evildoing and no prior memory of what happened or how they got there. Only this time they've misplaced Lauren's younger brother Teddy.

So How Much Cock Is There, Really? Man, what is it with you? Fine, I lost count at four, but one of those may have been prosthetic. I'm no expert, never mind what my college roommates might tell you.

"Critical" Analysis: Remember that episode of M*A*S*H when Hawkeye and B.J. have a contest to see who's funnier? And they tell the joke about the guy trying out for the circus? Remember how hilarious everyone thought the joke was the first time they heard it, but by the end of the show were merely chuckling at the punch line?

I'd love to tell you The Hangover Part II is nothing like that at all; that it breaks new comedic ground and finds interesting ways to develop the tired premise. Of course, I'd also like to tell you my wife won the Powerball and from now on I'll be filing my reviews from my newly constructed pleasure palace amidst the ruins of Macchu Picchu.

Did I enjoy the original Hangover? I did. I found the premise amusing because I myself have spent many a bleary morning in Vegas trying to piece together the events of the previous evening, sometimes without much success. And I thought the formula also benefited from the use of largely underexposed actors. At the time, Cooper was still primarily known from Alias and Nip/Tuck, Helms was a correspondent on The Daily Show, and Galifianakis an underground comedy sensation. The Hangover catapulted all of them into prominence, and while familiarity doesn't always breed contempt, it does make much of what seemed fresh in the original less enjoyable this time around.

The filmmakers seem to realize this. The screenwriters from the first film have all been replaced (though director Todd Phillips returns) and seem unwilling to take things in any new direction, almost as if Warner Bros brought them in solely for the purpose of aping the original formula to maximize profit potential. But that's probably crazy conspiracy talk.

There are a (very) few changes, of course. The new location allows for some minor cultural tweaks (mostly involving Buddhist monks and transvestite hookers - Thailand's two cultural cornerstones) and Doug spends this movie safely back at the hotel. We also get a lot more of the Asian gangster Chow (Ken Jeong), a character that frankly works best in much smaller doses.

Apart from that, this is essentially the same movie. Substitute Bangkok for Las Vegas, tattoo for missing tooth, monkey for tiger, and monastery for LVPD station. Oh, and it's the bride's family - not the groom's - that gets involved this time around, with Stanford med student Teddy assuming the role of MIA partygoer. Chow even gets locked in something again. If a remake uses the same cast and director, is it still technically a remake?

And then there are the dicks.

I don't recall exactly when the male member became the new millennium's equivalent of precocious toddlers, but they're obviously here for a while. And like a three-year old saying, "Oh no you di-int," I can't help wondering when they'll stop being funny. Or rather, when the mere appearance of one onscreen will stop eliciting laughter. They're odd looking, I grant you, but are we really so immature and/or penis-averse we have to shriek like middle schoolers every time one...pops up?

You'll probably laugh at The Hangover Part II, as did I. But go in with the expectation that you're dealing with seriously diminishing comedy returns. Almost every joke and scene is a variation on a theme you've already seen. And while it's obviously a successful one (the original is still the highest grossing R-rated comedy of all time), it won't last forever, no matter how long WB tries to milk it.

The Hangover Part II is in theaters today. See it with [insert dick joke] here.

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Peter Vonder Haar writes movie reviews for the Houston Press and the occasional book. The first three novels in the "Clarke & Clarke Mysteries" - Lucky Town, Point Blank, and Empty Sky - are out now.
Contact: Pete Vonder Haar