Saturday, May 28, 2011

"The Hangover: Part II": What happened in Vegas...moved to Bangkok

"The Hangover" will probably always remain one of my favorite movies.  At this point, after seeing it as much as I have, the laughs have become a bit stagnant, but I'll never forget how much I loved it when it debuted, and I'm sure that after a break from it for a while I'll be rolling on the floor once again.

That said...I was a bit weary of "The Hangover: Part II".  Sequels to great movies always frighten me, because I hate for them tarnish the originals. Something that made the first one shine was either missed, or there is just way too much of it, making the movie unable to stand by itself; it is merely a shadow of its predecessor. 

That is exactly how I would describe Phil, Stu and Allen's adventure in Bangkok. The movie follows the exact structure of the first one.  At times, I enjoyed this: the opening phone call was a nice touch, Johnny Cash is always welcome, and of course, there's the power of guest stars.  The film had the objective of topping the original, that was clear...but poorly executed. All Director Todd Philips' accomplished was making a raunchier, more outrageous (and to some offensive) "Hangover". Sure I laughed, but at times it felt a bit forced.

It blackened the original with its darker gags and generally just took the shocks of the first film too far. I didn't hate this new movie, but what made me love the first one was either beaten too badly, or just totally blackened by going a bit too far (The credit photos' parody of a famous Vietnam picture will be my example of this).  I don't think I'll be rushing back to the theaters to catch this one a few more times before it moves along. 

This is what I was afraid would happen.  The original is a classic, but is now slightly tainted by a stale sequel. The movie was made for the only reason a sequel should be made: the filmmakers wanted to do it again. But given their result I think they will feel compelled to make a third "Hangover", not necessarily because they're dying to re-live the fun they had making number two, but to redeem the franchise as a trilogy.  This trick has been done before, just look at "The Last Crusade" or "Ocean's 13", two films that were made to reclaim the fans their second installments had lost.  And, looking at a few different reports I've found, Philips is planning a "Hangover: Part III".

Unfortunately, this brings even more risk with it. Where Indiana Jones and Danny Ocean succeeded in making a solid Trilogy Capper...there have been plenty of Trilogies that have gone horribly wrong with their final installment: "Spider-Man 3", "The Godfather Part III", and "The Matrix Revelations" are the finales that immediately come to mind.

So if the third one comes to fruition, I wish it the best of luck. This dog is young enough to learn new tricks, don't make it rely on its original successes so heavily.

2 1/2 out for 4 stars.

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