Freshness is the fuel of comedy. Sure, plenty of people still love ‘The Three Stooges’ or sitcoms that hit all the same notes over again. I think what that tells us is that people enjoy familiar things, but despite that freshness is still necessary to comedy. We are more forgiving of repetition in television because of the nature of the format, and the fact that we don’t have to pay for it. At least for network shows and the like. Movies cost money and are a more memorable experience, so sequels need to be new and familiar at the same time. Giving us what we liked about the movie before, and also delivering fresh new thrills. The Hangover Part 2 fails on both counts.
But how can that be? This movie is almost identical to the first film. From the twists and turns to the things the characters say and do. Nearly everything the same, only reskinned and put in Bangkok instead of Vegas. The reason this movie fails to be new and interesting is because everything that was funny and charming the first time is boring and grating now. Bradley Cooper and Ed Helms were enjoyable in the first film, their counterbalance of smug and frantic set the tone for the audience. Zack Galifianakis was funny in the first film simply because he was underplayed and knew when to shut up. After seeing him in other films where that was not the case, such as the truly awful ‘Dinner for Schmucks’, I was apprehensive about having him in this sequel. My fears were well founded as he was the single worst part of this film, followed closely by Ed Helms. Mr. Cooper phoned in his performance and still is the best of the three.
It is temping to say ‘putting believability aside’ before launching into a description of the plot, but that way lies madness. Even in inherently unbelievable movies we seek an internal consistency with the character’s motivations and actions. Some people call this verisimilitude, I call it necessary to relate with the characters. From the moment the movie opens to the the second it ends the number of characters who act unbelievably only increase. Near the end of the film the audience is clearly aware that we are not watching people in a rough approximation of the real world, instead we are looking at some hellish pocket dimension designed to torment Ed Helms & Co.
For those of you who are still on the fence about this movie and are wanting a synopsis, here you go: the same as the first one, only not funny. No, I’m not just being a sarcastic jerk here. Someone’s getting married, they go far away, end up (reluctantly) having a bachelor party, lose someone, and spend the movie trying to get him back. Along the way they take a tally on all the horrible things they did and Galifianakis fails to be funny. The only moment of sanity comes at the point when Ed Helms gives up and plans on living in Bangkok for the rest of his life. Naturally this is only a precursor to getting things back on ‘track’ but it was one of the very few things that rang true to me. A person who could let this sort of thing happen twice should run away from his old life and accept that he should most certainly not breed.
Really, all the same gimmicks are used in the sequel. The phone call from Bradley Cooper to the worried wedding party, the asian guy jumping out of something to attack them, even Zack Galifianakis drugging everybody. Even the part at the end when someone finds photos of what happened. Oh, I’m sorry did that spoil a big surprise for you? Really it shouldn’t if you think about it. Anybody who watched the first film can view this one for free. Just remember the first one, now replace the bystanders with Thai people, change the prostitute to a ladyboy, and the baby is a monkey. There you go! You’ve now seen ‘The Hangover Part 2’. On the plus side it was free, but I’ll bet you still want a refund. Do yourself a favor, do the world a favor, and cast your vote by not buying a ticket for this movie.