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Thursday, May 26, 2011

The Hangover, Part II



"It happened again."

When terrorists invaded an airport in Die Hard 2: Die Harder, Bruce Willis has a meta moment where he asks the audience, "How can the same thing happen to the same guy twice?" The Hangover, Part II knows the honest answer: Because the first movie made a butt-ton of money. Once again, the same thing does happen to the same guys twice; before Ed Helms' wedding to Jamie Chung in Thailand, he, Bradley Cooper, and Zach Galifinakis - the Wolfpack - find themselves in a demolished Bangkok hotel room (the same hotel Leonardo DiCaprio stayed in at the start of The Beach?) unable to remember the debauchery of the night before. ("What is wrong with you guys?" asks Sasha Barrese, the wife of their buddy Doug. Doug - the eternally bemused Justin Bartha - is once again left out of the chaos, but this time he's conscious and relaxed at their beach resort, so he's good.) In Doug's place as the missing member of the Wolfpack (who's also missing a member) is Mason Lee as Chung's little brother Teddy. Also back is Ken Jeong as Mr. Chow, his tiny mushroom penis heralding the arrival of the rest of him.  Bangkok is a terrific setting for Part II, lending an air of beauty, danger and the truly bizarre even Las Vegas can't match. The plot moves in grim lockstep with the first movie's; to their credit Cooper and Helms are gung ho in keeping the pace and energy of Part II hurtling along, battling against the constant deja vu. Cooper seemed determined to have a ball making this sequel no matter what and practically wills everyone else to do the same. The bewildered bad boy camraderie of the Wolfpack carries the day, but the quips in Part II aren't nearly as memorable or quotable as its predecessor's. Galifianakis offers moments of his patented inspired lunacy, but there are just as many moments of the Wolfpack together where Galifiankis looks disinterested at the arbitrariness of the proceedings. (My favorite joke of the whole movie, however, involved a speedboat running aground but Galifianakis dropping the anchor anyway.) The montage of photos of the night they can't remember playing over the end credits was even raunchier and funnier than the first movie's. Still, The Hangover was lightning in a bottle. In trying to recapture that lightning, The Hangover, Part II pulls out all the stops: they found the most exotic bottle and performed exotic rain dances in the most exotic beach during an exotic torrential thunderstorm, but try as they might, no lightning, just sparks.