Monkey Business

'The Hangover Part II' is just the first movie done over—in a dark, unfunny way

As a huge fan of the first movie, I declare director Todd Phillips' The Hangover Part II one of the film year's biggest letdowns.

The film is like a little kid who does something stupid at a birthday party and manages to get a couple of giggles. Inspired by the giggles, the stupid kid goes crazy, repeating the stupid act and perhaps farting or throwing his shit at the wall in a desperate attempt to get more laughter. His audience sits, mouth agape, kind of frightened and not laughing. When the kid's show is over, his birthday-party audience proceeds to kick his ass.

Many critics will do the same to this movie.

Things start promisingly enough, with Bradley Cooper's Phil doing a variation on the desperate phone call he made in the first film: He and pals Stu (Ed Helms) and Alan (Zach Galifianakis) are in trouble again on a wedding's eve.

This time, they are stuck in Bangkok after a wild night before Stu's wedding. Stu wakes up with a Mike Tyson-style tattoo on his face; Alan's head is shaved; and Stu's future brother-in-law has gone missing (and all that is left behind is one of his fingers). There's a crazy monkey in the room, and, of course, Mr. Chow (Ken Jeong) is around, showing his small penis again.

Cooper is funny in this scene—but he's doing the same thing as in the first film. And that's what most of this movie is: It's the same basic, rehashed plot. But this time, Phillips makes his movie darker, nastier and nowhere near as funny.

Instead of a tiger, you get a scene-stealing monkey in a Rolling Stones denim vest. Instead of Stu losing a tooth, he gets a tattoo on his face. Mike Tyson is back to sing another song, and believe me, the air has gone out of that joke balloon. You also get Zach Galifianakis doing his usual goofball shtick, and that's a shtick I am officially getting sick of.

Phillips explored the darker side of his comedic mind with last year's mildly amusing Due Date, which itself was a rip-off of Planes, Trains and Automobiles. He scored some good laughs, mostly due to Robert Downey Jr.'s appalled reactions to the horrible things going on around him. However, the film lacked Phillips' normal joyful exuberance in misbehaving cinema.

The Hangover Part II is proof that Due Date was just the beginning of the nasty stuff, because Phillips really gets down and dirty in this. As opposed to the bright lights of Las Vegas, the wolf pack here is wallowing in dark, dank rooms and strip bars populated by transvestite hookers. If you remember, Stu has a penchant for hookers. Well, guess what happens to Stu this time!

In addition to the horrors Stu brings upon himself, characters overdose, get body parts cut off, and get publicly humiliated by the monkey. OK ... the monkey humiliating an old man is actually funny. If the movie didn't have the monkey—the same monkey that slapped Ben Stiller around in Night at the Museum—the film would be absolutely dreadful. There's just something about the sight of a monkey taking a slow drag on a cigarette that makes me giggle.

Galifianakis is catching a little bit of the Jack Black Syndrome: Black's manic routine was funny the first 50 times or so, but then it started to get a little tired, and now Black has stopped being funny. Galifianakis is starting to lose the surprise element regarding how weird he is—and the weirder he gets, the more normal and unfunny it feels. Perhaps he should stick to more-dramatic roles; he was quite good playing a real human in It's Kind of a Funny Story.

Phillips is already talking about a third Hangover, and he's saying it will be much different from the first two. Good; I like these characters, and would love to see them in a new movie—not the same movie regurgitated through a copy machine.

Hey, Phillips: Buy yourself some expensive cigars using the mountains of money you will make with this piece of shit. Then share those cigars with directors Michael Bay and Brett Ratner, because you are now officially a shameless hack.

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