The Hangover Part II will be the perfect tonic for those that thought the movie Choke was too tame. The ads for the film give the protagonists a brown tinged grimness, soaked in sweat and guilt. More to the point would be posters with the lead characters (the Wolfpack) swearing “I’ve got a demon in me,” or “Don’t mess with my tranny.”
Worse sequels have been made but in all honesty the scope and breath of Hangover Part II exceeds the original by a generous length. Setting the movie in Bangkok keeps the dangerous city mythos while also adding a scent of mystery and intrigue. Of course when all is said and done Hangover Part II still manages to have too many endings like it’s trying to imitate the last segment of Lord of the Rings.
Director Todd Phillips has a cinematic eye to be sure and the film has an interesting look that includes the high and low of Bangkok. Everything has been amped-up to 11 on a scale of 10; Phil (Bradley Cooper) is somehow more cynical and mean, Stu (Ed Helms) is just beginning to discover what really makes him tick, while Alan (Zack Galifianakis) is more annoying than ever. There’s also a monkey who smokes and deals drugs, welcome to Thailand. The monkey steals scenes and but for his hazardous occupation I could see a long life as a re-occurring character.
Paul Giamatti and Nick Cassavetes pop up in minor parts while Phillips makes his usual cameo in this case as a heavily accented creepy bartender/gun dealer. The jury’s still out on Phillips as a director of destiny. I like Due Date a lot and find Hangover Part II more inspired than its predecessor. But his early career starting with Road Trip and its ilk seems indistinguishable from dozens of other forgettable directors. Thing is, Phillips debuted with a couple of films that are hard to find: a doc on G.G. Allin (Hated) and a doc about fraternities (Frat House) that was made but shelved by HBO due to pending lawsuits. That bold fact combined with the composition chops on display in Due Date and Hangover Part II bodes well for future prospects.
The Hangover Part II taken on its own recognizance is more of an enjoyable sit than the boring Pirates 4 and it certainly isn’t aimed at 10-year olds like Kung Fu Panda 2. There are good crowd laughs to be had. Phillips never resorts to chuckles derived from poop when he can display a cock.
– Michael Bergeron