Friday, February 3, 2012

my thoughts on.... 'The Hangover part II'

I remember the first time I heard about 'The Hangover', I didn't have a whole lot of interest. Then everyone started talking about it and how good it was. At that point I started to wonder if maybe I was missing out on something really good. So, eventually, I took it upon myself to give it a shot.... I really enjoyed it. As of today, it is a part of my DVD collection and I've watched it a few times. Now, when I heard about the second one, I was hopeful for the same characters.... but in a different situation. Instead, we got a 'Die Hard 2: Die Harder' situation. What I mean is.... we got the same scenario again, but in a different place. Then the reviews came in and they were pretty mixed. I still had a desire to check it out, as I really love 'Die Hard 2'. Once I rented it, I didn't actually get around to watching it for over 2 weeks. I just wasn't in the mood for more of the same. When I finally did see it, well, I have to admit that I was pleasantly surprised. I think that I actually liked it more than the original. (Did I let the cat out of the bag too early?) The reality of the situation is: more of the same isn't always a bad thing! We had all of the original cast back for this movie. We had the same director and even if the story was almost identical, it felt fresh to me again. I actually think that the familiarity with the characters and situation made me appreciate it more and the I could laugh out loud because I was ready for it. All of those things are good things, I think. Who doesn't like things that are familiar? I do.

The (repeat) storyline goes like this: (taken from "Stu is getting married. Along with Doug, Phil, and his soon-to-be brother-in-law Teddy, he regretfully invites Alan to Thailand for the wedding. After a quiet night on the beach with a beer and toasting marshmallows by the camp fire, Stu, Alan and Phil wake up in a seedy apartment in Bangkok. Doug is back at the resort, but Teddy is missing, there's a monkey with a severed finger, Alan's head is shaved, Stu has a tattoo on his face, and they can't remember any of it. The wolf-pack retrace their steps through strip clubs, tattoo parlors and cocaine-dealing monkeys on the streets of Bangkok as they try and find Teddy before the wedding." (Why does everyone leave Doug out of the posters and stuff? At least he was mentioned here. Justin Bartha got a bum deal with these movies.... just sayin'.) Sounds familiar, yes? Right up to the very end of the movie, it's extremely similar.... all of it. I just want to make that very clear, this is virtually the same movie.

Let's pause a minute and think about the track record of the director, Todd Phillips. I think that you'll understand and appreciate this movie a bit more, if you know where it's coming from. He's directed a lot of comedies, including: 'Due Date', 'The Hangover', 'School For Scoundrels, 'Starsky and Hutch', 'Road Trip' and the classic 'Old School'. He's no stranger to this medium and so covering similar ground again is not a surprise. It's what he knows and what he does best. He also wrote most of the movies and produced them too. The original movie made a lot of up and coming celebrities careers take off. There is no denying that 'The Hangover' is a brand name people like. With all of that being said, they can't go back to this same creative well again. Just like with the 'Die Hard' films, you have to come up with something fresh by the third film, or risk killing the franchise. If there ends up being a 'The Hangover part III', it HAS to be something different. My question is, can they use the same characters in a different situation and it still be as funny? There are several logical ways this could go, one of them is expecting a child soon and all of the hijinks that ensue with that, a divorce party for one of them where they end up somewhere crazy or something, etc. As of the writing of this review, Zach Galifianakis said in an interview that part 3 is in the works. The premise would basically be the three guys trying to get him out of a mental institution. Zach gave up the basic plot of the 2nd one in an interview the last time. Todd Phillips denied the rumor, but then said he out right lied about it and that Zach was right the whole time. Perhaps lightning will strike twice? If they do make a 3rd and the plot isn't the same, would you want to see it? Only time will tell. I would be there.

At then end of all of this, is the question more of do you want to see the same movie again? or do you want to see a funny movie, even if it's about the same as the original? (It's really the same thing) It all comes down to whether or not you found the first one funny and if you find the second one funny too. We watch sitcoms all the time and they've been around for as long as TV has existed. The reality of sitcoms is that they are all pretty much the same thing every week. It's like the line from 'Friends' (a sitcom) where they guys are watching an episode of 'Three's Company' (another sitcom). Phoebe asks what episode it is they're watching of 'Three's Company' and Chandler says, "It's the one where there's a misunderstanding." Phoebe says, "I've seen that one." And walks away. That's because 'Three's Company' was basically the same scenario over and over. That's why sitcoms occasionally have 'A very special episode'. That's code for, 'A show that strays from the formula, be aware!'. The point of that is that movie sequels really aren't that different. We don't go for the plot so much as to see our favorite characters again and see what they're up to now. Things change with the characters, even if the plot stays the same. All of the guys in 'The Hangover' series have changed in two movies, just like John McClaine in 'Die Hard' changed. So put things in perspective before any sequel and understand that it isn't going to be a whole different movie, it's going to be familiar faces in a slighty different situation, end of story. Even the new 'Batman' films have been guilty of that. Bruce Wayne changes and the world around him changes, but in the end.... it's about Batman fighting a bad guy or two and having to save Gotham. Right?

I really liked 'The Hangover part II' and I found myself laughing out loud a lot more than in the orignal. I felt it was a solid 4 out of 5 star comedy. It's pretty hard to get me to laugh anymore. After growing up on sitcoms and films and being a bit of a comedian myself, it is hard to get me to find something funny. And my sense of what's funny is a little strage too. (years of seeing the same things over and over) So maybe you won't see eye to eye with me, since your perspective is different than mine. I would ask that you still give this movie a shot, you might be surprised. I mean, who doesn't love a monkey that likes to lick.... well, you'll see.

If you like this, check out a couple of Todd Phillips other movies: 'The Hangover', 'Old School' and 'Road Trip'

1 comment:

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