The Hangover Part II (Blu-ray)
How do you continue the story from the most successful R-rated comedy of all-time? That was the challenge facing filmmakers of THE HANGOVER as they endeavored to raise the stakes in the sequel. Instead of Las Vegas, this time we get to stumble through the streets of Bangkok along with Stu, Alan, and Phil as they once again try to uncover the prior evening’s activities. The actors are genuine and really appear to care about each other, but THE HANGOVER PART II just doesn’t live up to its own hype.
THE HANGOVER PART II picks up two years after the events of the first movie. At the start of the original it is clear that these guys are best friends… but when the sequel starts it is muddied. It sounds like they don’t talk anymore. They don’t seem happy with each other and honestly it’s uncomfortable. This is one of the only differences between the two movies, and it isn’t a choice that supports the rest of the film. Did they all grow up in the intervening years? Did the events in Las Vegas turn the group against each other?
This is usually where I give some information about the general plot of the movie. I’m sad to say (spoiler alert?) if you’ve seen the first movie you’ve essentially seen this one. From the opening bell the beats play out almost exactly as before (but less funny). I suppose if someone wanted to do a remake of the first movie this is probably what they would have done, but that is the problem here. The movie plays like a remake, not a sequel. Instead of caring for the characters, I found myself waiting for the jokes I already knew were coming and hoping for something unexpected. What is left is a movie that has fun moments but is too self-aware, like a comedy-ka-bob that lost its skewer and is left with some funny moments but little substance.
Along the way we are treated to some other interesting characters, including quick takes from Paul Giamatti (SIDEWAYS), Ken Jeong (COMMUNITY), Jeffrey Tambor, and newcomer Mason Lee (as Stu’s future brother-in-law). The supporting cast is strong and do a great job with very little. The starring cast is stronger, with Bradley Cooper (Phil), Zach Galifianakis (Alan) and Ed Helms (Stu) showing just how strong they each are individually. The problem is the moments that shine are the moments that truly feel spontaneous (and were likely improvised). This fits Phillips’ style but once again serves to draw attention to the lack of originality during scripted moments.
Director Phillips has been on a hot streak recently, despite being a bit hit-or-miss since arriving on the scene with ROAD TRIP in 2000. His movies aren’t high art; that isn’t what we should expect. But we should expect a new experience, not just new lines of dialogue delivered smugly by actors who appear (at times) to believe their own hype. This is one that has some good moments but never strikes with the resonance of the original.
Video: (1080p, 2.4:1 Widescreen) This is a great transfer that looks absolutely breathtaking.
Audio: (English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1) This is a nice mix that plays well on your home system (during the MOVIE, the special features are poorly mixed).
Unauthorized Documentary (25:26) A tongue-in-cheek, fake ‘documentary’ that is pretty funny for the first few minutes. It features the cast, a few character actors and many Hollywood elite. Seriously, it is funny for a few minutes… until it becomes just TOO “funny” and too full of itself. Would have been much more worth the time if it was about 10 minutes long.
Behind the Story – Three short featurettes with behind the scenes footage from the film. (I think I laughed more during these special features than I did during the movie.)
The Comedy Rhythm of Todd Phillips (06:59) Interview with the cast and crew and shots of the guys doing improv on the scene. This is a well-paced featurette that is very enjoyable.
Not Your Everyday Monkey (02:41) The monkey was an integral part of the cast, and here they talk about their experiences. The crew joked that Cooper and Crystal had a fling… very funny.
Bangkok Tour with Chow (03:03) A ‘politically incorrect’ tour with Mr. Chow (Ken Jeong).
Gag Reel (04:53) Movies with lots of improvisation tend to have good gag reels. The sound mixing here is terrible, and there are only a few funny moments. I expected a great deal more from a Todd Phillips movie.
Action Mashup (00:46) Lots of quick cuts showing the action sequences from the movie.