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The Hangover Part II

Hangover 2

Why would you ever want to wake up next to these shmucks again?

dir: Todd Phillips

Second verse? Same as the first.

Anyone who paid good money to see this flick, and complained that it was exactly the same plot as the first obviously doesn’t understand what the purpose of a flick called The Hangover Part II was really meant to be.

I didn’t pay good money to see it, because all of my money is tainted with the blood of the innocent and the guilty alike, and I expected it to be exactly what it was, and thus I enjoyed more than the first flick. It’s not better than its predecessor, nor could it be, really. Honestly, these flicks are less movies than they are long, stretched sketch, with multiple gaglets along the way before a punchline that can’t live up to anything.

It doesn’t have to. The premise is so fucking simple, and so enjoyable, that nothing else matters. Characterisation, believable dialogue, people acting sanely is completely unnecessary and unwanted.

Why? Because it’s about that most awesome of things: getting fucked up and not being able to remember the reprehensible shit you got up to the night before.

There’s no Oscar in that. There’s no longing to peer into the depths of the human condition. There’s no need for some Ingmar Bergman-like exploration of man’s misery in the face of God’s silence. It’s about terrible people doing terrible stuff, not remembering either the fun or the awfulness, and trying to find one of their number who’s gone missing.

They’re not trying to make amends. They’re not seeking redemption. What evil they’ve perpetrated they won’t even get punished for, nor will they learn anything from their experience together. But as long as they find the missing chap, and get to the wedding on time, everything will be forgiven and the world will click back into place.

Of course this flick follows exactly the same template as the first flick. Why would it not? I would argue the very universe would collapse in on itself if they varied the formula one iota. It’s in the performance of exactly the same actions, the same framework that transcendence arises, like a Zen monk making the same perfect circles for decades with his rake in a sand garden, until he just can’t take it any more and shoots up the place with an AK.

There’s a very good reason why these flicks start with a Danzig tune at the beginning. Of course these are comedies, but they’re about the darkness inside men’s souls that only the overly muscular steroided dwarf Glenn Danzig can articulate. They’re songs about evil men, who accept what they are, and are broadcasting that fact to the world.

The beginning of this flick would lead you to believe that these men, with whom we’ll be spending an uncomfortable hour and a half, don’t acknowledge who or what they are yet, nor have they learned anything of value from the first go around. But the second part of that wouldn’t be true.

They’ve learned that they shouldn’t have a buck’s party in Alan’s (Zach Galifianakis) presence, because he’ll probably do something to fuck them all up. Even then, he finds a way to unleash the demon inside all of them.

This time around, Stu (Ed Helms) is the one getting married, in Thailand, no less, to Lauren (Jamie Chung), a woman so lovely that it’s unlikely she’d be marrying someone that looked like Stu even if he had Bill Gates’ and Steve Jobs’ money combined. This is Hollywood, though, and so special effects make anything possible.

Bradley Cooper plays Phil, and he brings the same glorious blend of smugness and vacuousness that these films demand, and that his career exemplifies. He’s the pretty one, I guess. Alan is the borderline retarded one, who instead of being quirky and child-like, is creepy and a borderline kiddie fiddler. It’s strongly implied. His character is so strange, and so deliberately off-putting that it’s a wonder anyone lets Zach Galifianakis near their kids or onto film sets. He’s always saying something odd, off or off-putting, in ways that make it sound like he’s always improvising when everyone else is reading from a script.

Of course the script mostly reads like “what did we do, what happened, where’s Teddy, what are we going to do, what’s the next breadcrumb in the trail”, so maybe he can’t be blamed for wanting to mentally wander off the reservation like he’s Joe Biden all the time. I guess he’s earned it (?)

Even though these cretinous scallywags find themselves on the paradisiacal Kohs, like Koh Samui or somewhere similar, and even though Stu is determined to not have his nuptials be majorly fucked up like last time in Vegas, of course the deviant and devious Alan finds a way for them to end up in…

Bangkok. With a terrible, um, what’s the word? Oh, yeah, hangover. But Lauren’s brother Teddy is missing, having left his finger behind as a memento. And instead of a baby in the room, there’s a monkey. And instead of a lion, there’s a crazy, effeminate no-dick crim called Chow (Ken Jeong), also from the first flick, who speaks ebonics in a squeak so high-pitched it made my ears bleed.

They try to pick up the pieces of the night even though they’ve all blacked out, in a desperate search for Lauren’s brother, but we know none of this matters. What matters is the fucked up shit they did the night before, and, from Stu’s perspective, it’s about proving his hoped-to-be-father-in-law wrong.

You see, fathers-in-law always have to be pricks; it’s a rule of nature and a rule of Hollywood. But the prick in this flick has the temerity to try to humiliate Stu at the pre-wedding dinner, telling all the arrayed family and guests that he considers Stu to nothing more than the human, walking, talking equivalent of rice pudding.

My daughter loves rice pudding. She probably doesn’t find it bland. I hate the taste, and wish it was bland, instead of possessing the consistency, texture and taste of reheated sick.

Stu doesn’t take too kindly to the characterisation. In fact, it’s strongly implied that the worst excesses he exceeds in and indulges in are in reaction to this insult. Why, he’ll show that motherfucker just how much of a not bland person he is, by doing everything American tourists do when they have money, no shame, a passport, and the inclination to take on Bangkok’s entertainments.

And, boy, does he show them. He shows them all!

The popularity and success of these flicks is staggering to me, especially since, on the surface, and beneath that very shallow surface, these are pretty silly, lazy, lowest common denominator flicks. This flick made half a billion fucking dollars. I’m not exaggerating. Over 580 mill. How could you argue with their logic, with their model, with their cookie-cutting skills? How can you say that people don’t want to see this magic?

You can’t. No, you can’t. These flicks speak to people, beyond the mild hijinks and salacious bullshit. I’m guessing they’ve been there before. Not the bullshit with gangsters and monkeys and missing people, but that sickening experience of trying to recall just what happened the night before, and whether they had fun or not, and what they’re going to say to the judge when their case is finally heard. They enjoy how these dickheads get themselves into pickles and scrapes that would see most of us incarcerated for the rest of our natural lives, but which they get out of by saying ‘I’m sorry that we started a riot that killed a thousand orphans, can’t remember anything about it, but have you seen our friend?’

It comes down to glamorising alcohol and drug abuse, really, and I can’t fault the makers for that. Even if a stack of the violence that happens on Fridays and Saturdays is fuelled by booze and recreational drug use, can you really say that those people are ‘bad’? No, argues the flick, because the rest of the time they keep the demon inside them in check. And if the demon peaks out for a night every few years, is that really such a bad thing, to acknowledge that we have a monstrous id we hide beneath the veneer of civilisation and repression?

No, not at all. Better to release it every now and then in the confines of a developing country, rather than bottle it up until it erupts at a time and place, like a visit to a kindergarten, that is completely inappropriate. That’s why Buddha invented the fleshpots of Bangkok, a place where a man who’s otherwise never admitted any desire to be coked up or bi-curious can do lines and get fucked in the ass by a katheoy-lady boy before a wedding.

And that, my friends, is something even Shakespeare wouldn’t have had the balls to do in order to reveal something special about the human condition.

Hangover Part II goes there, though. I bet you in Part III they’ll even get to murder people themselves!

7 examples of why when a drug dealing monkey is the smartest character in a flick, you know you’re in danger out of 10

“So much for holy people. Bunch of bald assholes.” – yeah, you showed that Dalai Lama, you did – The Hangover Part II