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The Hangover Part II(2011)
Phil, Stu, and Alan travel to Bangkok for Stu's wedding only to find themselves in another post-blackout misadventure.
For more about The Hangover Part II and the The Hangover Part II Blu-ray release, see the The Hangover Part II Blu-ray Review published by Kenneth Brown on November 27, 2011 where this Blu-ray release scored 3.5 out of 5.
Starring: Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms, Zach Galifianakis, Ken Jeong, Paul Giamatti, Jeffrey Tambor
Director: Todd Phillips
» See full cast & crew
The Hangover Part II Blu-ray Review
Phillips' Wolfpack 2.0 is all bark and very little bite...
Reviewed by Kenneth Brown, November 27, 2011
Half a billion. Let that sink in. Half a billion. $581 million to be precise. The Hangover Part II made a killing at the worldwide box office, and nothing -- be it rapidly diminishing word of mouth, critical drubbings or embarrassing Rotten Tomatoes scores -- seemed capable of putting the Wolfpack down. That doesn't mean director Todd Phillips' highly anticipated sequel is any good. If box office totals were the be all, end all of cinema, the greatest films of all time would include Transformers: Dark of the Moon, Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, The Phantom Menace and Spider-Man 3. Oh, the Hangover redux will leave some laughing, and some laughing even harder than they did when first wheezing their way through the morning-after that started it all. Some won't mind how derivative, unoriginal and familiar the sequel is, and others will balk at the mere suggestion that Hangover fans deserve more than a money-driven cash-in. But The Hangover Part II could have been funnier, should have been funnier, not to mention sharper, smarter and more surprising. Instead, it's the same R-rated, F-bombing A-lister comedy we watched a hundred times over in 2009. Phillips just subs in Bangkok for Vegas, a chain-smoking capuchin monkey for a tiger, a face tattoo for a missing tooth, a severed finger for a baby, and Mike Tyson for, well, Mike Tyson.
If a vein is snaking its way up the center of your forehead, feel free to skip ahead to the video and audio portions of my review. If you just realized that this is the same reviewer who shrugged his shoulders after watching The Hangover, feel free to dismiss me entirely with a "to each his own" before an uncontrollable rage leaves you huffing and puffing in the forum. Still here? To be fair, Phillips and co-writers Craig Mazin and Scot Armstrong were faced with an almost impossible challenge: recycling The Hangover formula without repeating themselves beat for beat for beat. The problem is the formula is already so one-note -- a trio of semi-lovable losers race to piece together the events of a drunken night none of them remember -- there isn't much room for variation, other than variation of the Mad Libs variety. (Insert a place. Thailand! An event. A looming wedding! A noun. Dead body! A body part. Shaved head! A locale. Buddhist temple! An Occupation. Transgender prostitute! Another noun. Drug-laced marshmallows! Action. Car chase!) It's as if Phillips, Mazin and Armstrong pounded out their screenplay using a handful of darts and a newspaper. And so it goes that Phil (Bradley Cooper), Stu (Ed Helms) and Alan (Zach Galifianakis) wake up, yet again, with zero memory, a mystery to solve and a missing friend, this time Stu's soon-to-be brother in law, Teddy (Mason Lee). If it ever bothered you that John McClane wound up at the center of so many yippie ki yay terrorist plots, stay far, far away from The Hangover Part II. The bizarre comes to poor Officer McClane's door. The Wolfpack seems to have a knack for knocking on bizarre's door.
To fill in the particulars of the plot itself would be to reveal the punchline of every gag The Hangover Part II has going for it. The less you know, the more you'll laugh. But the particulars don't really matter, at least not in Phillips' house of cards. It could be Pittsburgh, a Port Authority light rail train, and a bloody kidney; Bolivia, a heroin-addled llama and a prosthetic leg; Istanbul, an abandoned subway and Michael Vick. It's all set dressing. Phil, Stu and Alan scramble from hotspot to hotspot, run into the most morally bankrupt characters imaginable, panic, panic some more, panic until panic sets in, and slowly come to terms with their inebriated alter egos. The jokes hinge of shock value and shock value alone, out and out madness erupts just 'cause, and Cooper, Helms and Galifianakis scream, howl, weep and shriek with abandon. But something crucial is missing, namely the chemistry. I may not have been The Hangover's biggest fan, but even I could see Phillips' leading men and their bromance made the film everything it was and more. Toss in any other actor, replace any of the three, and we probably wouldn't be dealing with a sequel; just a look back at another average comedy. Fast forward two years to 2011. In Hollywood, two years might as well be twenty. Gone are the B-squad scrappers with something to prove to Hollywood, Phillips and themselves. Cooper has arrived, Helms is managing The Office, and Galifianakis is suddenly popping up everywhere. They may have ditched their star trailers for a wild ride in Bangkok, but they're softer and, to compensate, trying way too hard. A great comedy's biggest laughs come naturally, though, and nothing about Part II comes naturally. After all, it had to top The Hangover, right?
No, it didn't. R-rated comedies tend to flail when they get competitive, as do their stars and directors. A sequel shouldn't play it safe, granted, and treading tame waters would be as detrimental as going too far. Make no mistake, pushing the envelope is part of what made The Hangover the breakout genre hit of the decade. But Phillips seems desperate this time around, the boys seem anxious to please, and Part II doesn't have the same free-for-all fire in its belly as its predecessor, despite the fact that everything is supposedly bigger, badder, grittier and raunchier than ever before. It's a sequel driven by the desire to make a sequel, not by the desire to make a specific sequel. Phillips, Mazin and Armstrong didn't have an epiphany. They didn't wake up one morning with a brilliant idea as to what insanity the Wolfpack should stumble into next. They needed to make a sequel to one of the most financially successful comedies of all time. The Hangover Part II wasn't born from passion, it wasn't produced in a vacuum, it didn't require many hard-fought battles, it wasn't a risk, it wasn't a long shot, it didn't catch anyone off guard... all building blocks of classic comedies. And it reads on screen time and time again. It's prepackaged for mass (adult) consumption, but it needs some salt, some seasoning, anything to spice it up.
Normally, in circumstances like these, I'd be quick to suggest that it might be wise to write off my opinion. I didn't fall in love with The Hangover, why would I fall in love with its sequel? But I'm in good company on this one. Far too many of those who worship the ground Stu and his buddies walk on came away from The Hangover Part II disappointed or even dumbfounded, wondering how it could all go so wrong. There will, of course, be those who enjoy the sequel, and a few who enjoy it more than the first film. They'll just find themselves among a small minority. But that's comedy, and that's why we keep watching and laughing. One man's Monty Python is another man's Monty Python. So give The Hangover Part II a rent. Love it or loathe it, you'll certainly have something to say about it.
The Hangover Part II Blu-ray, Video Quality
The Hangover Part II is dripping with sweat, tears and twice-baked skintones, and its 1080p/AVC-encoded video transfer is true to its source, pound for pound, pixel for pixel. Colors are hot and oversaturated, but it's in keeping with Phillips and DP Lawrence Sher's muggy Bangkok palette. Contrast simmers, primaries boil over and black levels border on oily, and it's every bit as exacting as the presentation that accompanies a new theatrical release should be. Some minor crush and a bit of inherent ringing take a slight toll, but it's all negligible in the grand scheme of things. The encode itself is pristine; artifacting, banding, aliasing and other common issues are nowhere to be found, grain is intact and refined, and every last detail is present and accounted for. Monkey fur, Galifianakis beard hair, Cooper stubble, inflamed facial pores... textures are exceedingly well-resolved, edges are crisp and the only softness on tap traces back to the film's original photography. Needless to say, if Sher caught it on film and Phillips let it through, it's showcased here. Fans will be ecstatic.
The Hangover Part II Blu-ray, Audio Quality
Warner's DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround track doesn't fall short either. Louder, nastier and more aggressive than your run-of-the-mill comedy mix, The Hangover Part II takes advantage of its sonic potential, growling, roaring and hurtling ahead with the best of 'em. LFE output is brash and beastly, matching the Wolfpack's every move with throaty speed boat engines, the hum of the city, and the hearty thunk of an angry Monk's staff. The rear speakers aren't quite as assertive as they might be in a full-fledged action flick, but directional effects abound, crowd chatter is enveloping and the soundfield is engaging. The film's music lends the track power as well, and every upbeat and beatdown hits home. Through it all, dialogue is clean, believably grounded and perfectly intelligible, and only a handful of lines lack the support a more mainstream studio comedy might offer them. All in all, The Hangover Part II sounds as terrific as it looks.
The Hangover Part II Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
The Hangover Part II Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
You don't have to look far to find a negative review of The Hangover Part II. Uber fans may be more forgiving, but even the vast majority of the sequel's defenders will admit the first film is much, much better. And if you didn't already adore the Wolfpack, be warned: Part II isn't going to suddenly make you warm up to Stu and his friends. Quite the opposite. I suspect you won't find many negative reviews of Warner's Blu-ray release, though. With a fantastic video transfer and excellent DTS-HD Master Audio track in tow, the Blu-ray edition makes the film easier to grin and bear. Just don't hold out hope for many special features. The sequel may have racked up half a billion dollars at the worldwide box office, but the film's extras are few and far between.
The Hangover Part II: Other Editions
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