Throwing stuff at the internet to see what sticks
Monday, June 06, 2011 M. Ovie Reviews: The Hangover Part II
By now everyone reading this (and most people not) is aware of the rap against The Hangover Part II, which is that it's essentially a remake of the first one, with a change of setting to Bangkok and several additions of the word "again" to the screenplay. While I don't disagree with this assessment, I think the movie could have forestalled some of this criticism with a title that implied less lofty ambitions. "The Hangover Iteration II" is sufficiently unpromising. Then people would know exactly what they were getting before they got it and have lower expectations.
I myself had pretty low expectations. On the other hand, I've only seen the first film once, quite some time ago, so my memories of it are slightly less fuzzy than those of our heroes. But then seeing this brought it all back again. In fact, there were so many elements repeated in the second movie that it's affected my memory of the first movie to the point where I'm not sure that stuff that only happened in the second movie didn't also happen in the first and I just don't remember.
See, the thing about sequels is that they're made because when there's something successful, audiences want (and studios want to sell them) something that is, according to the old saying, "the same, but different." The trick is walking the line between how same and how different. For example, The Matrix Reloaded was too different from The Matrix because of the addition of too many new characters, settings, and sucking. The Hangover Part II, on the other hand…well, see above.
But does it mean the end of the franchise? I doubt it. If Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets won't get a string of sequels axed, nothing will. I think we just need to adjust our expectations. After all, plenty of people tune in every week to a TV show with a similar premise to The Hangover's. Specifically, a group of people go haring in blind panic around an unfamiliar city on unlikely adventures, racing against time while following a tenuous trail of clues to an inexorable climax, led by a charismatic man named Phil.
So if The Amazing Race can have a starting point, an airport sequence, a Detour, a Road Block, and an elimination in a different international city almost every week, why can't every version of The Hangover do the same, only with an impending wedding, a bachelor party that begins with one drink and ends with our heroes waking up in squalor and disorientation with a member of their party missing (or mostly so)? And then why can't there always be a second act in which the same three guys struggle to reconstruct the previous night, following the indelible trail of their own shocking debauchery while running afoul of the local underground and law enforcement, just to find their missing friend? And can anyone think of a decent reason why, when their best hope has turned into a dead end and Phil has to call Tracy to break the bad news (it's always Phil calling Tracy, even if that makes no sense), Stu can't always have an epiphany in the middle of the call and solve the mystery using clues that they had since five minutes after they woke up, before returning to the wedding just in time and boldly standing up to the person who's been bringing him down? And let's always have the coda in which someone comes up with a digital visual record of the night in question to play over the closing credits, and also at some point Ken Jeong jumping out at them with his tiny penis. Hey, if it works once, right?
This is all making me look forward to recapping another twelve episodes of The Amazing Race in the fall. And I'm going to be the first in line for tickets to Dude, Where's My Car Now?
Unrelated: We're looking for a place to put M. Edium (now six and a half) in language lessons. Any good suggestions for Twin Cities-area would-be mini-polyglots? posted by M. Giant 9:17 PM 0 comments