I can’t remember what I thought of the first Hangover movie—I think it was something like “not worth the hype, but passable”—but this time I have the power of blog to remind me in case I draw a similar blank when The Hangover, Part III comes out (which it inevitably will.) So, future Fiona: DON’T GO OH GOD JUST STAY AT HOME AND CREATE YOUR OWN HANGOVER, I KNOW YOU DON’T REALLY DRINK BUT START INSTEAD OF SEEING THIS.
Basically, Stu (Ed Helms, mopey) is getting married to Lauren (Jamie Chung, the only likeable person in the film, making up somewhat for Sucker Punch) in her parents’ home country of Thailand. Along for the wedding is Phil (Bradley Cooper, all alpha male, all arrogant, mostly annoying), Doug (Justin Bartha, again barely in it and probably offended at that fact), and, unfortunately, Alan (Zach Galifianakis, reprehensible in just about every way.) Despite Stu’s best hope for a single, quiet drink at the beach, the three original Hangoverers end up in a seedy hotel in Bangkok the next morning, missing their fourth guest: Lauren’s younger brother Teddy. When last time around they lost Doug, you were all, “Aw, poor guys,” this time all you can think is, “These are bad people and should feel bad. Seriously, twice?” And that’s the problem—it’s basically like someone gluing random pages of the Wikipedia entry for Bangkok to the novelisation of the last movie and submitting it as a new script as a joke. It doesn’t do anything new—just replaces tropes from the old movie (ie. baby) with slightly altered ones (ie. monkey that smokes).
I can barely come up with anything good about this movie. I basically forced my spouse into seeing it with me, and now I owe him. Even the audience behind us—a target-market-packed cinema full of teenage-to-middle-aged men—didn’t really laugh, or react. There was some stilted awkwardness as Zach made racist and inappropriate remarks that were probably surprising and new the first time (“wow, people really still talk like that? How awful being stuck with him”) now being tired and just rude and offensive (“why the fuck did they let this guy back in their lives?”) Maybe three jokes were funny, like when Alan says sadly to his new pal, “I wish monkeys could Skype.” But it’s not a comedy, even though it seems to be billed as one. It’s maybe a melodrama. It’s definitely not good.
The problem with The Hangover Part II is that all the action takes place in the past. So Stu wakes up with a tattoo on the side of his face. Remember the post-big-night-tattoo scene in Dude, Where’s My Car? when Ashton and Seann’s characters scream, “Dude, what does mine say?” “Sweet, what about mine?” for like ten minutes? Yeah, don’t expect that level of funny, but go YouTube that and laugh like it’s 1999, then thank me later. We don’t experience the hilarity and boundless energy of the night before, but have to listen to Stu wailing about how his life is doomed (which it probably is, and rightfully so), Phil sighing and trying to fix things, and Alan being the most crass person in existence. It’s far too much like reading about your overly dramatic friends on your facebook wall, except you’re stuck listening for two hours instead of being able to open up a new tab and read Cracked.com.
There are gaping plot holes and underdeveloped scenes. Paul Giamatti turns up briefly and steals the scene with a buzzing, ominous terror. Animals are used in the movie, something I’m becoming much less cool with over time—it is never necessary to put them in movies. As far as I can tell, everyone involved seems to be pretty cool in interviews/real life, but they are not cool in this. And despite my usual wailing about dicks in movies, there are dicks in this one—lots—but somehow the way they’re used rankles instead of pleases, not because of who they belong to, but that they seem to be making fun of those who own them. Or, you know, short version: transphobia isn’t cool, folks, and you can’t pretend it is.
In summary: Below Expectations, and may make you want to go and get smashed afterwards so that when you reflect upon it, all you can feel is a dull thrum of amnesia. Thailand is beautiful and, despite them trying to make Bangkok seem terrifying, is the only thing that you may go away feeling affection for. If you are desperate to watch a whiny pack of assholes on screen for hours, just tune into the AFL instead. At least some of them get punched in the face.