This weekend, Warner Bros. releases the sequel to their 2009 hit The Hangover, and anticipation for the film– which some are expecting to be the biggest comedy of the summer– is running high. Original stars Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms, and Zach Galifianakis are all back on-board, as is director Todd Phillips and screenwriter Scot Armstrong (along with Phillips and Craig Mazin). What do you need to know about The Hangover Part Two before throwing down your $10 for a ticket? Find out below, my gentle Examiner readers…
The Hangover Part Two arrives this weekend, and it only seems that the buzz, hype, and anticipation surrounding the film gets stronger with each passing day. This is natural with sequels (particularly when it’s a sequel to a film that was as balls-out successful as the first Hangover), of course, but as we’ve seen time and again, overhyping and reckless buzz-building has a way of placing unfair expectations on a film. Remember when you actually thought Indiana Jones 4 was going to be a good movie? The joke sure was on us, wasn’t it?
And, since we’ve already seen the film (review HERE) and because we actually enjoyed it, it seemed like it might be helpful to provide a little guidance for all the Hangover enthusiasts out there, a few “Things You Need to Know” that might help temper your expectations for Phillips’ latest film. These aren’t spoilers– we don’t traffic in spoilers here at Comedy Examiner HQ– but they are warnings of a sort. Take them for what you will, and keep ’em in mind when you head out to the theater this weekend.
1. It’s going to be cool for people to hate on THE HANGOVER PART TWO, but screw those guys
It’s already started happening: a backlash against The Hangover and its sequel seems to be setting in online. Whenever something becomes wildly popular, it almost goes without saying that the “cool kids” will find a reason to hold it in contempt. When the first Hangover arrived in theaters, people– your humble Comedy Examiner included– had a great time watching it unfold. Then, over the months that followed, it became a hit, and (as it happens with any comedy that achieves the sort of success that Phillips’ Hangover achieved) frat-boy d-bags the world over started quoting it constantly. Drunken idiots would sing the “Three Best Friends” song to one another in bars. People wore t-shirts just like the one Zach Galifianakis wore in the film. In short, the public loved The Hangover so much, they beat it into the ground. That’s where the backlash started.
Now it’s getting a big-budget, highly-publicized sequel. If there’s one thing the “cool kids” can’t stand more than overwhelming success, it’s more overwhelming success. There’s no doubt that The Hangover Part Two is going to generate a lot of money at the box office, so we’re fully expecting the backlash to hit the mainstream any minute now (for the time being, it’s a bit of an underground movement). Ignore this backlash: if you liked the first Hangover, you’re probably going to enjoy the second one. Don’t let one of those mouthy “cool kids” ruin your enjoyment of an above-average sequel.
2. Yes, THE HANGOVER PART TWO is more of the same, but not in a bad way
Obviously, director Todd Phillips (who wrote the script with Scot Armstrong and Craig Mazin) knew they’d have to top themselves with The Hangover Part Two— that’s how sequels work– but how does one top a film whose original stakes were already so high? You could do “more of the same” and hope that audiences fall for it…or you could take the film in an unexpected direction. Maybe you could go really dark, unexpectedly twisted. The characters have to be recognizable to fans of the first film, but they’ve also gotta grow: otherwise, what’s the point?
To this end, The Hangover Part Two mostly succeeds. From where I’m sitting, Phillips and Co. decided to shoot for the middle: they’ve made a film that– on paper– is almost beat-for-beat the same as the first film…but they’ve also ramped up the darkness, made things much more disturbing this time around. I’d love to back that statement up with a few examples, but in the interest of keeping things spoiler-free, you’re going to have to take my word for it. I expect that audiences will be divided between those that think The Hangover Part Two is too similar to the first film…and those that feel that it’s much darker (pleasantly so) than the original. In any case, the flick’s worth seeing. You wanna be part of the argument on Monday morning, don’t you?
3. THE HANGOVER PART TWO is the best-looking film that Todd Phillips has ever made, but not the best film
The original Hangover is– for my money– still the best film that Todd Phillips has made: it seems like the film he’d been building up to throughout his entire career. That said, until The Hangover Part Two, I’ve never felt that Phillips’ films had a “look” or a “feel” that was praise-worthy. This film does. Working again with cinematographer Lawrence Sher (who shot the original, Garden State, and Due Date), Phillips makes Thailand (Bangkok, specifically) look grungy, gritty, sweaty, and horrific. The film’s look helps establish the darker tone in the film just as much as the script. I walked out of The Hangover Part Two really impressed with what Phillips and Sher were able to put onscreen.
4. The mystery at the heart of THE HANGOVER PART TWO isn’t as good as the first film’s
This is probably going to be the biggest complaint people level against The Hangover Part Two: the central “mystery” that drives the film just isn’t as compelling as the one at the heart of the first film. Furthermore, the connective tissue between “clues” doesn’t feel as developed. There’s a fuzziness to the plot that wasn’t there in the first film, and the “leaps” that characters have to make between “clue” and “solution” can be a little harder to swallow. But, really, are you going to see The Hangover Part Two for an Agatha Christie-level mystery, or because you want to laugh– and hard?
It’s also worth noting that the element of surprise– whether it be the situations the characters get into or the way the main characters behave– is also diminished in the film. Quite frankly, that’s the risk you run with any sequel, so it’s not like this should come as a shock to anyone (the writers, stars, and director included): once everyone understands the format of the film (a mystery that must be solved backwards) and the way the characters will react to certain situations (Alan is the weird one, Stu is the geeky one, Phil is the cool one), it’s a lot harder to “surprise” the audience. Phillips works hard to keep things surprising with some truly shocking developments, however, so this is kind of a minor quibble.
5. Be prepared for a good amount of full-frontal male nudity in THE HANGOVER PART TWO
If you’re not big on wangs, well, you probably need to steel yourself for The Hangover Part Two.
Keep these things in mind as you head out to the theater this weekend, folks, and you’ll do just fine. While I largely enjoyed The Hangover Part Two, I’m also very curious to see how others are going to react to the film: I wouldn’t be surprised if a lot of people end up complaining about just how dark sh-t gets here, and I also won’t be surprised if people complain about the familiarity of the film’s plot points (see also: #1). The bottom line, though, is this: most sequels suck really, really hard, and The Hangover Part Two doesn’t even suck a little bit. Yes, it’s familiar, and yeah, the mystery isn’t as good this time around, but you’re still gonna laugh your ass off in an air-conditioned theater for 90 minutes this summer. And furthermore: this isn’t the best-ever summer for comedy. Soak in those laughs while you can.
Stay tuned for more on The Hangover Part Two as we get closer to the film’s release, folks. We’ll have an interview with the film’s writer, Scot Armstrong, for you on Friday, as well as more Hangover-related nonsense to keep you away from your work as the weekend approaches (don’t forget to read our official review HERE). As always, feel free to sound off in the comments section if you’ve got anything you’d like to add to this: have you seen The Hangover Part Two? What’d you think? Haven’t seen it but still want to complain about it? Want to complain about the people that are complaining? Hit the comments section below and let ‘er rip, Slappies.
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