Thursday, June 2, 2011

The Hangover Part II (2011) – Review

Review: The Hangover Part II is funny enough, and maybe would be a better film if The Hangover did not already exist, but it does – so this is not. Director Todd Phillips and Warner Bros. seem to be more interested in making money than a compelling narrative (when with a compelling narrative this still would have made the same money, if not more). The story and narrative structure are almost exactly the same as the first film, but Phillips has little regard for the characters and their growth – rather he is mostly concerned with exaggerated jokes that go over-the-top to make this seem even crazier than the first (and I guess we all saw this coming, but forgave it for the potential of another very funny and well done comedy). Sure there are moments of hilarity, but without the character work and strong narrative those moments do not really mean anything and exist on a plane outside narrative filmmaking, falling more under pure spectacle (and this film plays that way, which hurts it gravely). The first was so successful because it was innovative and had relatable and memorable characters. In part II the characters are mere caricatures of themselves (something that sadly seems to be common in sequels) driven by the expectations of fans of the first (with the “dance for me monkey” mentality, and there a monkey in the film!). They no longer feel like real people and thus the audience does not relate to them, and almost regardless of how funny the comedy is and how crazy the misadventures are the film will not be good without the connection with the audience. Phillip’s narrative is also sloppy and built around gags rather than character arcs. It is wholly unsatisfying and even mildly insulting to its audience, especially the third act. Phillips had the opportunity to make another great comedy, working with very funny people, which makes it all the more disappointing that the goal seemingly was to throw something together as close to the first as possible with the aim for dollars and not quality (and the average moviegoer would lap it up anyway, which they have). It almost plays a bit like a parody of itself, which could work given the right tone and crafting, but here it is more the result of shoddy filmmaking than seemingly a conscious effort. In a vacuum (the first film not existing), this would be a mediocre comedy with some really funny parts. As is, The Hangover Part II is just really disappointing and not very good.

Technical and acting achievements: Director Todd Phillips has an up and down track record. He has done some very funny stuff like Old School and The Hangover, but often he gets carried away with gags and jokes and forgets that the most important ingredient to any film is the characters (and secondly the narrative, both of which are weak here, but somewhat saved from sheer terribleness due to some funny stuff and performances).  Christopher Beck’s score is good and fits the tone of the film. Though, his work is somewhat overshadowed by the found-music pieces that fit very well. The cinematography by Lawrence Sher and the production design by Bill Brzeski are probably the best part of the whole film. Both do very good work (especially for a Hollywood comedy). The cast is a little iffier, in terms of good work. The main three actors (Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms and Zach Galifianakis) are good and all are funny (if only their characters where actually given better material and growth), but due to the tired narrative they seemed to be going through the motions a bit (both in performance and their characters confronting the situations). Justin Baratha is not really given anything to do. The same goes for Jeffrey Tambor and Jamie Chung. Ken Jeong plays Mr. Chow as a cartoon version of himself (which you would think would be hard given how crazy he is in the first) and Paul Giamatti is completely uninterested in his performance (probably due to it being poorly written) and it shows as he just phones it in.

Summary & score: All in all The Hangover Part II is a failure (unless you are Warner Bros. and have a big hit on your hands without much effort). Hopefully the third will be better (but I am not holding my breath). 5/10

No comments:

Post a Comment