Dir. Todd Phillips. USA. 2011

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Finally, you get to see the film that everyone is talking about.  And much like a night out at the think everyone says is hot, it falls flat on its face and leaves a bad taste in your mouth.

Whilst the original Hangover in 2009 was a shot in the arm for American studio comedy, a resurrection of sorts after so many baffling rom-coms and Frat Pack comedies that left you speechless, this is a return to those dark days.

I remember speaking to a fellow cinephile about the release of the film in fact two weeks ago on the day of its release, and he asked me what the expectations were.  I had to be honest, they were not positive.  Partly, because the sequel is emblematic of too much of a good thing (look at the Pirates franchise), why ruin something that was so perfect with what will be bad from the get go.

The beauty of the original was that it was an idea for the film that should have been done years ago, so credit to the screenwriters Lucas and Moore who wrote it and enshrined themselves in history.  Luckily, they are left laughing loudest because they did not write the script for this one.  That should have been an indicator, instead the script is written by the director, Todd Philips, who is a better director than writer - and taking over inherited characters and feeding them lines is not the same thing.

From the get go, it takes ages for the film to get a head of steam - it starts in LA and then they leave for Bangkok.  Stuart (Ed Helms), the dentist, is getting married to American-Thai bride Lauren in her home country, so Phil (Bradley Cooper), Doug (Justin Bartha), Alan (Zach Galifinakis) and Lauren's younger brother, Teddy () are in tow on the flight.

From the initial re-introduction of Alan, there is a whiff of staleness about Alan's material - whereas two years ago his child-like naivety was whimsical and hilarious, due to Galifinakis playing the same role in Due Date, albeit effeminately, you feel as if you have been beaten to death with this schtick of a fat man-child who may or may not be gay and is the stupidest person in the room; even though he gets the two biggest laughs from me, when a ladyboy reveals her parts he turns and says 'Is this a magic show?' and when he drops anchor on a boat which is on dry land.  The latter one is near the film's end, where I wanted to laugh after nearly 90 minutes of not laughing.  He also leans in over peope's shoulders when in shot to get cheap laughs.

The performances are not great, as I have stated with Galifinakis - Cooper seems bored and looks destined to befall the career of second generation McConaughey, eye candy with a good delivery of a line; Bartha might as well not be there, Teddy is a red herring to the proceedings and almost forgotten about a few times.  Only Helms as the constantly put upon Stu is the one who comes out with any credit, as he embraces his demon (or is it semen)inside him.  Even Chow (Ken Jeong) returns and he chews up the scenery with relish but annoying degree of sanity.

My other initial acknowledgement of this film being a failure, was that it was set in Thailand.  Knowing how easily American comedies are racist all is apparent here as we have ladyboys, the language difficulty -not one American even attempts to speak the local dialect and a monkey (always a bad sign when a sequel introduces an animal to the cast) that stimulates masturbation on a Buddhist monk.  Alan says masturbation is funny and universal, no it is tasteless and lowest common denominator comedy.

The whole production feels like it was rushed with a script that the original scriptwriters had now say in and would have refused had they seen it; hence their absence.  I hope this is the end and we do not see a film to complete a trilogy, although again money talks and the initial box-office receipts are positive, although that is because the original was so adored people cared about these characters and wanted to see what happened next. Now I am not so sure that investment will carry over to a third film.

There was a reason why there was no sequel to Animal House, you can have too much of a good thing.  In this case, we have had too much of a bad thing and like any old Hangover that takes place in a foreign country - it is best to keep it to yourself, forget it and never bring it up again.
Jamie Garwood

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