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The Hangover Part II (2011)

Warner Home Video
Blu-ray Disc Released: 12/6/2011

All Ratings out of
Movie: 1/2
Video: 1/2
Audio: 1/2

Review by Mike Long, Posted on 12/4/2011

In the reality of today's Hollywood, when a movie reaches a certain level of success, it becomes inevitable that there will be a sequel. As it's no longer a question of "Will there be a sequel?", the issue is now "What kind of sequel will it be?" Will the new movie branch out in a new direction or will it simply be a continuation of the first film? The other thing to consider here is, what does the audience want? I have to assume that these kinds of questions haunted the makers of The Hangover Part II and after seeing the film, it's pretty clear which route they took.

The Hangover Part II begins about two years after the events of the first film. Meek dentist Stu (Ed Helms) is now engaged to Lauren (Jamie Chung), having presumably not continued his relationship with Jade. Lauren is Thai and they plan to have the wedding in Thailand, despite the fact that Lauren's father clearly dislikes Stu. Due to the events experienced by his friends in Las Vegas, Stu is determined to keep his wedding low-key. He doesn't have a bachelor party and he doesn't invite Alan (Zach Galifianakis) to the wedding. However, Doug (Justin Bartha) insists that Alan be invited and the odd man is delighted to get this news from Stu. So, Stu, Phil (Bradley Cooper), Doug, and Alan find themselves on their way to Thailand, but Alan is disappointed to learn that Lauren's brother, Teddy (Mason Lee) will be joining them, as he sees him as a threat to their little group. Once in Thailand, the group enjoys a lavish dinner and then rendezvous on the beach to share a toast.

The next morning, Phil, Stu, and Alan awaken to find themselves in a filthy hotel room in Bangkok. There is evidence that Teddy was with him, but they can't find him and they can't remember anything from the night before. With Doug running interference for them back at the resort, the trio hit the streets of Bangkok to find the teenager. They will soon learn that the dangers and oddities of Bangkok make Las Vegas look like a playground.

The Hangover was one of those movies which was true crowd-pleaser and it's $277 million take at the box office was a feat for an R-rated film. I caught the movie on home video after hearing all of the hype and glowing reviews, and I was a little underwhelmed by it. It was certainly funny, but it wasn't groundbreaking. Thus, I wasn't sure what to expect from the sequel.

Director Todd Phillips has made a career from making movies which are shocking and push the envelope. The shocking thing with The Hangover Part II is the odd way in which the movie plays it safe. It's obvious that Phillips et al decided that the audience who enjoyed The Hangover wanted more of the same and made a movie which is nearly a carbon copy of the first film. This creates a huge problem right off the bat; the audience must buy the idea that these three guys will once again find themselves in a situation where they are in a crazy city with no recollection of what has happened to them. This is a ludicrous notion, so much so that the very plot of the movie matches the wackiness seen throughout the film.

The basic plot isn't the only thing which feel familiar. The actions of the characters and the way in which they are presented is almost identical to the first movie. Stu suffers some sort of disfigurement and freaks out. Phil attempts to be the cool and calm one. Alan constantly says things which have little to do with what is happening and his reactions to situations are rarely appropriate. It's obvious that The Hangover team was aware of how audiences reacted to Galifianakis in the first movie, as we get even more of his craziness here. In fact, there are times when scenes feel as if they exist solely for Alan to either misunderstand them or underreact to them. We find ourselves constantly wondering if any of Galifianakis' dialogue was actually in the script or if he was making it up as he went along.

My overall reaction to The Hangover Part II was an odd one. Obviously, there were times when I felt that I'd seen all of this before, and I couldn't believe that there wasn't any more originality here. However, these are fun characters, and it was great seeing them, plus some other familiar faces, again. The movie is undeniably funny, and Phillips made the right choice allowing Galfifanakis to have the spotlight, as Alan has the best lines in the movie. As with the first film, the movie pushes the envelope in terms of good taste, but I never felt as if these moments were there just to be shocking. The Hangover Part II isn't as good as the first movie, which isn't surprising, as it makes little attempt to feel fresh. However, it's like slipping into an old pair of jeans, comfortable and satisfying, if not overly familiar.

The Hangover Part II solidified my belief that I never want to visit Bangkok on Blu-ray Disc courtesy of Warner Home Video. The film has been letterboxed at 2.35:1 and the Disc carries an AVC 1080p HD transfer which runs at an average of 22 Mbps. The image is sharp and clear, showing no grain and no defects from the source material. The image is certainly crisp, but this is often a dark movie, thus diminishing some of the startling clarity we often get from Blu-ray Discs. The colors look very good, most notably reds. The level of detail is good, sometimes disturbingly so. The image has a nice amount of depth and this is most notable when the characters are in the narrow streets. The Disc contains a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track which runs at 48 kHz and an average of 4.0 Mbps. The track provides clear dialogue and sound effects. The stereo effects work quite well, taking advantage of the various noises from the street scenes, as we get a sense of what is happening to the left and right of the screen. The same sort of effects come through the surround channels, which, while not the most detailed I've ever heard, still provide individual effects. The subwoofer really comes into play from the rap music which Phillips insists on putting in these movies.

The Hangover Part II Blu-ray Disc contains only a smattering of extras, considering what a hit the movie was. "Unauthorized Documentary" (25 minutes) is a faux documentary in which Miles Davis-Davidson (played by actor Rob Benedict) attempts to expose the excess and decadence on the set of The Hangover Part II set. He interviews many real-life Hollywood types, such as J.J. Abrams and Morgan Spurlock. There are some funny moments here, such as a poster for a fake Abrams movie and the notion of Zach Galifianakis stand-ins, but some of it falls flat. I like the concept, but I think I would have preferred an actual making-of. In "The Comedy Rhythm of Todd Phillips" (7 minutes), the actors talk about how the director works on the set and we see examples of how he molds a scene by trying different things. "Not Your Everyday Monkey" (3 minutes) profiles Crystal the monkey and shows her working on the set. We also see how affectionate Crystal was with the cast. "Bangkok Tour with Chow" (3 minutes) has Ken Jeong, in-character, showing us around the mysterious city. We get a five-minute GAG REEL and "Action Mashup", which is a 46-second reel of violence from the movie.

Review Copyright 2011 by Mike Long