When there’s two sequels headed our way in one weekend, it’s hard to not reiterate the beginning of the other. However, sometimes one film is more deserving of accolades. The two films in question are both Kung Fu Panda 2 and The Hangover Part II. One follows the simple rules of sequels where it’s simply more of the same while the other attempts to add deeper characterization and expands upon its own universe. It should come to no surprise that the lesser of two sequels would fall upon the shoulders of The Hangover Part II.
Before the original Hangover was even released this sequel was greenlit. Warner Bros. knew they had a surefire hit on their hands and they were right. Only costing $35 million to make, The Hangover I went on to gross $277 mil domestically with an astounding $467 mil worldwide. A hit? You betcha! Now what to do with a sequel. Questions arose when the trailer was released as it seemed virtually identical to the original. Did director Todd Phillips, with long-time screenwriting partner Scot Armstrong and new addition Craig Mazin, simply remake the original film using Jon Lucas and Scott Moore’s original screenplay as a literal template and just set the film in a locale? That’s exactly what they did.
But as the old adage may say, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” right? Well you could at least attempt to try something, anything, new. It’s a good thing this movie is so damn funny. The main cast of Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms, and Zack Galifianakis – along with supporting players in the likes of Ken Jeong, Mike Tyson, Jeffrey Tambor, and Bryan Callen – have all returned. This time we get a few new additions with Stu’s (Helms) fiancée Lauren (Jamie Chung) and her brother Teddy (Mason Lee). That about sums everything up and, if you’ve seen the first one, that’s all you need to know about the plot in this one. They are literally identical. This time its Stu getting married and they wake up in Bangkok; hilarity ensues… at least for the most part. What you see is what you get and, like I said before, it’s a damn good thing the cast is having fun because this one is raunchier, grosser, and even more mean spirited.
Try as Phillips may, there’s absolutely nothing new to see here. Oh sure, there’s been lots of supposed controversy over a much publicized cameo appearance. It was originally supposed to have been played by Mel Gibson and has since gone on to be covered by Nick Cassavetes. I’m not exactly sure how this counts as a cameo anymore when absolutely no one in the target audience will even know who he is.
The only thing that comes close to a real cameo is Paul Giamatti playing a seedy character named Kingsley who’s in need of bank account numbers and access codes that Mr. Chow (Jeong) has stashed in the vest of a drug running, cigarette smoking monkey. This subplot is so extraneous it defeats the purpose of even being in the film. Every scene is supposed to contain some kind of clue as to what happened during the group’s blackout, but not one thing here pertains to anything else. It’s a huge ten minute gap that could have so easily been excised for whatever is going to wind up on the unrated Blu-ray release anyway.
In the end, as I said before, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Warner Bros. knows they have a good thing going here. The cast is fully engaging and give it their all in spite of pretty much simply remaking the original in a new city. But while the first one contained so much freshness, here it comes off as repetitive. Especially if you just recently rewatched the original as I did last week. However, everything works to make for a crowd pleasing raucous time at the movies.
It’s just a shame that this will probably outgross the far superior Bridesmaids in its opening weekend when all it really does is just outgross the movie if you get what I mean. There’s already been talk of interest in making a third to close everything as a trilogy as the word continually gets thrown around in Hollywood like it does these days. If they don’t come up with something better than this next time, it’ll be a good thing they only thought about taking that far.
Photos courtesy Warner Bros. Pictures