Wednesday, June 01, 2011

REVIEW: The Hangover Part II

Sometimes a tree falling on your house makes things a whole lot funnier.

That may seem like a strange thing to write, and an even stranger way to begin a movie review. But hear me out.

Last week, a storm's straight line winds blew down a huge maple tree in my front yard. The tree crashed through my living room, making it not very liveable. The limbs also poked holes in my bedroom wall, so now I can see my living room from my bedroom.Not the kind of view I wanted. What makes it all the more frightening is, I was actually IN the house at the time, but luckily I was downstairs in my movie room, of all places. Click here to view the damage, if you're so inclined.

I spent most of last week in a daze, and I needed pretty much any excuse I could find to laugh. Perhaps that's why I liked The Hangover Part II more than other critics did.

To be sure, the sequel is not a particularly good movie. My fellow reviewers are not wrong when they say The Hangover Part II is essentially the first movie transplanted to Asia. It's uninspired and not nearly as surprising as the original  - but I laughed anyway. Granted, most of the laughs were mild chuckles as opposed to the full-on guffaws I gave the first movie, but I felt better after seeing the sequel than I did before seeing the sequel.

Part of the reason for that, besides relief from my tree trauma, was the cast. Mike Clark, the former USA Today critic, used to say that some movies are not very good, but are saved by sheer star power, and The Hangover Part II is a good example of what he was talking about.  These guys have great chemistry. Even though they're kind of going through the motions, they're still funny together.

The reason they all get wasted this time is even more far-fetched than a stick your dog brought back from Timbuktu. But Bradley Cooper is still funny as the handsome straight man and supposed brains of the operation, Zach Galifianakis is still a loose-cannon, man-child loon, and Ed Helms is the square who's wilder than he thinks he is.

Case in point: at one point, Helms sings a little song, just like he did in the first Hangover. That time, it came totally out of the blue, so it was one of the biggest laughs in the film. Ths time, it comes because the fimmakers said, "We've gotta have that bit where Ed sings" - so the moment doesn't carry the same jolt of surprise. In fact, it's downright lazy. But Helms pulls it off with such panache that I still smiled.

And that is The Hangover Part II  in  microcosm. On the one hand, this cast and crew are clever enough that  they can be funnier if they aren't just repeating themselves. But on the other hand, they're funny enough that the movie works. Undoubtedly, Part II's massive opening has Warner Bros. drooling over a Part III. If that gets the green light, I hope director Todd Phillips knows he can't get away with coasting a second time. And I'm not going to be as forgiving, because if another tree falls on my house, I won't be laughing.

But if he's as clever as this trailer, he might have something.


1 comment:

Dan O. said...

What's missing is a huge part of what made the first film so good: the element of surprise and the actual joy of having all these crazy situations happen. This is a It's a dark and morbid cash-in and nothing more, except with some chuckles. Good review, check out mine when you can!