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Published: Friday, 5/27/2011

No cure for this 'Hangover'

'Part 2' gets bogged down in rehash of original concept

BY KIRK BAIRD
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Zach Galifianakis, Bradley Cooper, and Ed Helms return for 'The Hangover Part 2.' Zach Galifianakis, Bradley Cooper, and Ed Helms return for 'The Hangover Part 2.'
WARNER BROS. Enlarge

The Hangover Part 2 is a comedy as witty and original as its title suggests.

While the original Hangover was full of gut-busting humor and clever surprises, including its Memento-esque deconstruction of an out-of-control bachelor party, the only real surprise in Part 2 is how familiar and warmed-over everything feels.

The Hangover Part 2 returns the four members of the wolf pack: Bradley Cooper as Phil, Ed Helms as Stu, Zach Galifianakis as Alan, and Justin Bartha as Doug -- who has slightly more screen time in Part 2 than the original. The cast is not the only holdover from the first film either. The sequel also returns a near-identical plot from The Hangover, from the frantic attempt of Phil, Stu, and Alan to retrace their drugged-out debauchery from the night before, to the fact that, once again, a member of their bachelor party goes missing as his wedding approaches. The Hangover Part 2 goes so far as to sub out the first film's baby with a monkey, and Stu's missing front tooth for a facial tattoo.

If you're seeing the pattern here, you're correct. The Hangover Part 2 is a near-carbon copy of the first film, only without its predecessor's funny lines and hysterical situations -- important ingredients in a successful comedy.

THE HANGOVER PART 2

Directed by Todd Phillips. Screenplay by Craig Mazin and Scot Armstrong. A Warner Bros. release, playing at Rave Franklin Park, Fallen Timbers, Levis Commons, and Fox Theatre. Rated R for pervasive language, strong sexual content including graphic nudity, drug use, and brief violent images. Running time: 101 minutes.

Critic's rating: *

Phil .......... Bradley Cooper

Stu ..........Ed Helms

Alan .......... Zach Galifianakis

***** Outstanding; **** Very Good; *** Good; ** Fair; * Poor.

 

The only real changes are cosmetic. For one, this time around it's Stu getting married. His future in-laws are from Thailand, thus providing the film its necessary excuse to change locations from Las Vegas to Bangkok. And it's not Doug who goes MIA, but the teenage brother of Stu's fiance, Teddy (Mason Lee, director Ang Lee's son). And yes, the drug-dealing Mr. Chow (Ken Jeong), now a friend of Alan's, returns, and once again holds key information to finding the missing member of the bachelor party.Even Jeffrey Tambor is back as Alan's dad, in a cameo so brief you wonder why the actor even bothered.

The Hangover Part 2 fails at most things, but the acting talent involved in the film shouldn't shoulder the blame. With the likes of Cooper, Helms, and Galifianakis on board, there's something seriously wrong with a script if it can't generate consistent laughs. The trio are willing -- you can feel Galifianakis really working it with his improvised non sequiturs -- but often they appear dazed in this sequel.

You know a film is in trouble when a cameo by Paul Giamatti as a crime lord goes nowhere. His character's involvement in the story comes across like a screenwriting afterthought, as in "Paul Giamatti wants to be in our movie. What can we have him do?"

The Hangover Part 2 makes you further appreciate The Hangover's original scripting duo of Jon Lucas and Scott Moore, who were smart enough to excuse themselves from the sequel.

So Craig Mazin, Scot Armstrong, and director Todd Phillips apparently slapped a script together, slavishly adhering to the first film's story line as if it still would seem fresh to audiences. Did it never occur to them The Hangover's premise only can be stretched so far before the comedic novelty wears off?

And what happened to Phillips the director? In the first Hangover he seized the opportunity of such an inventive script and put together a wildly funny movie that was relentless in its pursuit of a raunchy good time. That sense of passion behind the camera is nowhere to be found in Part 2. Even by Hollywood sequel standards, The Hangover Part 2 besmirches a good comedy's name.

Contact Kirk Baird at kbaird@theblade.com or 419-724-6734.



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