|Worth seeing:||as an action film without enough laughs, trying and failing to match its predecessor|
|Featuring:||Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms, Zach Galifianakis, Bryan Callen, Jamie Chung, Jeffrey Tambor, Justin Bartha, Ken Jeong, Mason Lee, Nick Cassavetes, Paul Giamatti, Sondra Currie|
|Released:||26th May 2011|
WHAT’S IT ABOUT?
It’s happening again. A bunch of well-meaning, fun-loving, boundary-pushing lads end up getting a little the worse for wear in the run-up to a wedding.
This time it’s prim-and-proper dentist Stu (Ed Helms) who’s getting married, to his Thai bride Lauren (Jamie Chung). Although her father disapproves of the union, he is throwing a lavish wedding at a luxury Thai resort.
After what happened in the first film, Stu wants nothing more adventurous than a pancake brunch for a stag-do and only his two best friends Phil (Bradley Cooper) and Doug (Justin Bartha) are invited to the wedding. But Doug’s worried about the other member of the gang, Alan (Zach Galifianakis), being left out.
Against his better judgement, Stu allows him to come.
At the resort, a couple of nights before the wedding, Lauren is happy for Stu to enjoy a quick drink on the beach with his pals and she’s particularly pleased that they’ve taken her teenaged brother Teddy (Mason Lee) into the fold.
The next thing they know, Stu, Phil and Alan wake up in a seedy Bangkok hotel room. Teddy is missing and they have no idea how they ended up there. Their only clue to what happened after they left the beach is Crystal, a cigarette-loving, drug-dealing, denim-wearing monkey.
Can they find Teddy and get back to the resort in time for the wedding?
WHAT’S IT LIKE?
More than most sequels, this film follows a pattern very similar to its predecessor, from the memory-loss to the guest-starring animal and all the hi-jinks thereafter.
There are a handful of references lost on anyone who missed Part One, but not to the extent that viewers won’t be able to follow this.
Oddly, it might be fans of the first film who are more disappointed, because they’ve seen it all done before – and better.
It has its moments though – there are plenty of wince-inducing gross-out moments, although many feel somewhat contrived.
The story is necessarily way over the top, with a series of snowballing disasters befalling the gang as they try to negotiate Bangkok’s seedy underbelly to find Teddy and escape to the safety of the luxurious resort.
It zips along at a ferocious pace, delivering the kind of stunts and sight gags required for a high-profile action comedy.
There’s more action than comedy though – as many of the jokes fall rather flat, not least because some of the characters are too far removed from reality for us to be able to identify with them or the situations they find themselves in.
Given that the first film is now known as the “highest-grossing R-rated (18 for our purposes) film of all time” it seems odd that they’ve let this one slip to a 15, although how this happened with drug use, full frontal nudity and amputated fingers, I don’t know.
Posters all over Cannes this year revealed that the French translate the film’s title as A Very Bad Trip, which doesn’t quite work as an unintended review, because it’s not very bad – but after the hype of the first film, it’s a little disappointing that the Hangover Part 2 is a rather formulaic tale with a bunch of surreal caricatures being led through a rather illogical world, trying hard to live up to high expectations but always falling just a little short.
There was much publicity in the autumn about how a key cameo role by Mel Gibson was supposedly scuppered by opposition from Zach Galifianakis. The director Todd Phillips got Liam Neeson – Bradley Cooper’s co-star from the A-Team – to come in at the last minute to replace him.
So you might be surprised to get to the end of the film and realise you haven’t seen Neeson. There was considerably less publicity second time around, but when Phillips decided to recut the film in such a way that Neeson’s scene required a reshoot, the actor wasn’t available.
With just weeks to go to the film’s release, the actor/director Nick Cassavetes was brought in for the one-scene role of an American tattoo-artist in Bangkok.
Third time lucky? Or will Gibson and Neeson conclude they were the lucky ones?