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Friday, 10 June 2011

The Thin White Dude's Reviews - The Hangover Part II

Directed by: Todd Phillips

Produced by: Daniel Goldberg
Todd Phillips

Written by: Scott Armstrong
Craig Mazin
Todd Phillips

Starring:
Bradley Cooper
Ed Helms
Zach Galifianakis

Music by: Christophe Beck

Cinematography by: Lawrence Sher

Editing by: Debra Neil-Fisher
Mike Sale

Studio: Legendary Pictures
Green Hat Films

Distributed by: Warner Bros. Pictures

Release date: May 26, 2011

Running time: 102 minutes

Country: United States

Language: English

Budget: $80 million

Gross revenue (as of publication): $349, 560, 132

Just so you know, I wasn't lying about my intention to go and see X-Men: First Class tonight. However, circumstances out of my control means that my screening for this film will have to be put back for a few days. Also, along with the bunch of films I mentioned earlier, I will be seeing Kung Fu Panda 2 next week, as, like the original, it will probably have a running time in The Strand for four or five months. Honestly, it was the longest running in a cinema I have ever seen: I'm pretty sure it was on DVD release whilst on it's original run in The Strand. Typical Strand, but you gotta love 'em!

But then again, I'm avoiding the argument. As the film for review today is The Hangover Part II, those who follow my blog will know how I feel about the original, and my general approach to sequels and remakes, particularly those I deem 'unnecessary.' I acknowledge that I am in the minority on this one, but I seem to be one of the few people (alongside Richard Corliss and Mark Kermode) who didn't care for the original, excepting Zack Galifianakis' performance as Alan Garner. My personal feelings for those who want to watch The Hangover is that they should go see Withnail and I, full fucking stop! But I keep the pretence of being a critic, so I'll be objective. Following on from their chaotic adventures in Las Vegas, Phil (Bradley Cooper), Alan (Zach Galifianakis) and Doug (Justin Bartha) travel to Thailand with Stu (Ed Helms) to celebrate his wedding. Along with Stu's future brother-in-law Teddy (Mason Lee), they toast to his future on a beach with a single beer, however, things do not go to plan. They awaken, sans Teddy in a dirty hotel room in Bangkok, flanked by old best fiend Leslie Chow (Ken Jeong) and a chain-smoking monkey, and have to figure out how to get Stu back to his wedding.

I know, long paragraph, but I have to have a little structure! Anyway, let's start with the good. Once again, Zach Galifianakis hits the right nail on the head with his performance as Alan Garner. He balances well the line of tension between fear and comedy: we do love that character, but when he glares at Teddy, we also fear him. Also, Bradley Cooper, whose back I always jump on, didn't annoy me with as much swagger this time, and exuded a charisma that indicates a promising future. Paul Giamatti has a small but wonderful role in the film that highlights just how damn good an actor he is. The film's cinematography by Laurence Sher has a great sheen to it. Despite depicting a tourist's view of Bangkok (more director Todd Phillips fault), it is a startling picaresque portrait that is presented. Finally, with regard to the script, there are some moments of dark comedy which are humorous, although one can't help but feel why they didn't pool these ideas into one (as in the previous) movie.

Which brings me to the bad. I just had a big intake of breath there in contemplation of the storm on the horizon. Where to start? I guess the fundamental thing at fault is the rocky foundations in the script, written by Todd Phillips, Craig Mazin and Scot Armstrong. Bradley Cooper is quoted in Vanity Fair as having said "we hadn't earned the ability to take these three guys out and put them in a new structure:" for me, this is as much an admission of the structural limitations of the film. As opposed to coming up with new and potentially innovative ideas presented by the new territory, the writers have opted to essentially remake the original film, switching Doug with Teddy, the baby with the monkey, Chow with Kingsley, Heather Graham with, well, try and guess, it is Bangkok. Everyone knows the joke that we cultured Western folk love to make at the Thai. Honestly, I smiled three times, and that was the closest I came to laughing throughout: it is an insidiously unfunny film. Todd Philipps, who last time round I said "needs to reconsider his occupational position in the near future," I am beyond words with frustration at. Last time I get that some people found the film funny even though I found it moronic. However, by simply cashing it in and playing out the same jokes, only in Bangkok and not Vegas, Philips is alienating his central audience by attempting to push the boundaries to the heights of ridiculousness. I am not that angry at the film, I just found it intensely boring and stupid.

With The Hangover Part II, the writers/filmmakers really missed a great opportunity. I would love have seen them flip the bird to the money-men and make a really far-out dark comedy. They had that potential, Zach Galifianakis being the flag-bearer for my argument. While the film certainly looks the part, albeit in a tourist's view of Bangkok, it is a really boring re-tread of the original, which I felt wasn't good in the first place. The attempts to push things to things to their brashest, crudest possible levels of excessiveness has proved to make a very boring and stupid comedy. The fact that people are still going to see this in their droves, having re-couped it's budget four times over already is frankly terrifying. Go fucking watch Withnail and I! Or if you want the ultimate in excess, go watch Re-Animator: at least it has some proper context. The Hangover Part II was draining and had me closing my eyes at certain points because I knew the plot was going from A to B, and that if I opened my eyes (as predicted) I'd be in the exact same place as I was in the last film. Honestly, it is not worth your time, and not worth mine for the filmmakers to have an excuse for the impending threequel.

The Thin White Dude's Prognosis - 3.6/10

The Thin White Dude's Self-Diagnosis - Tired (both from reviewing and lack of sleep: I had to take my dog to a bloody grooming session earlier, still love him though!)

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