The Videogum Movie Club: The Hangover Part II
This shouldn’t need and probably doesn’t need to be said, but everyone is entitled to their opinion. I mean, obviously. In the words of those Madea subway posters: no dehr. People always say that comedy is subjective, which is true, but that ignores the larger point, which is that EVERYTHING is subjective. You like what you like! No big deal! You like what you like and you go to work and you get married and you take the car to the shop and you die, or whatever. So, when I was exiting the theater after watching The Hangover Part II and a group of post-pubescent boys in front of me were already quoting lines from the movie to each other and making grandiose statements such as “That was the best movie ever made,” I had no problem with that. These guys loved it! It brought them pleasure! Pleasure is a gross word and it kind of gives me the creeps! But it did! Especially Zach’s line about Long John Silvers. That one nearly killed them. Good. Honestly, if a movie that is expressly made for post-pubescent boys can’t win over the post-pubescent boys, that is a shame. Of course, being post-pubescent boys, I’m not entirely sure that they would have afforded me the same consideration were I to turn around and tell them MY opinion. They might not recognize that it’s all just the human spectrum of experience momentarily fluorescing in the darkness in an attempt to JUST EXIST before it all goes puff. They’d probably tell me that I was wrong, or worse. They might call me names because kids can be so cruel. But nevertheless, we are all entitled to our opinions and my opinion is this:
I hate this fucking movie so much. Here is why:
The first Hangover was fine. I did not love it, but it definitely had some laughs in it, and it was very exciting to see Zach Galifianakis on the big screen* for those of us who were already fans of Zach Galifianakis before the movie came out. I’m not saying that in an “I knew him first, so that makes me cool, fuck your ringer-tee, I only wear baseball sleeves” kind of way. For one thing, there were lots of people who were fans of Zach before I was. For another thing, he is very good at what he does, and it is great that more people know who he is now and like him. Yay! It’s like that Paul Giamatti movie I still haven’t seen: WIN-WIN! The point is: The Hangover was fine. Kind of a weary premise, but who cares? It had enough genuine silliness woven into the slapstick humor and the boner humor that there was something for everyone, and that is why it made all of the money in the world. There is literally no money left now. I’m pretty sure the HBO movie Too Big To Fail is about this.
When the trailers for The Hangover Part II came out and revealed that it was basically going to be the exact same movie but in Bangkok, I had no real problem with that. At least they were being honest! There was actually something funny to me about a movie that just repeated itself.
Nope. I was wrong.
There is nothing funny about a movie that just repeats itself. Because The Hangover Part II doesn’t just follow the same structure as the first movie, it even tries to go beat-for-beat with it. Yikes! So, instead of a tiger there is a monkey. Instead of a SPOILER roof there is an elevator. Instead of a fancy car being ruined there is a fancy little brother being ruined. Tooth = tattoo. Mike Tyson = Mike Tyson. Dirty photos during the end credits. What happens in Bangkok stays in Bangkok. But not just plot points, which we kind of already guessed from the trailer: the jokes are just as lazily swapped out one for one. When we first meet Ken Jeong, we see his tiny penis again. LOL? All of Zach’s lines in the movie seem to be the same things he said the first time around, just with different “hilarious” and “off-kilter” references switched in. Was this movie written by a Microsoft Word find+replace hotkey?
The result of making a movie this way is that you not only feel like you’re just rewatching something you’ve already seen, but now all of the joy and charm has been drained from it and it has been dumped unceremoniously into a fetid icebox. In the original Hangover, the part where Zach masturbates the baby at brunch was a goofy improvisation that they kept in the movie. In The Hangover II, Zach making a monkey gnawing a monk’s water bottle dick is forced to the point of being painful. Much like a monkey ACTUALLY gnawing on your dick! Even worse: the song that Ed Helms sings on the boat. What? That doesn’t even make sense. I know this is just a comedy, and it’s all in service to the jokes, but it’s one thing for Ed Helms to sing a silly song at a bachelor party gone wrong, and it’s another thing entirely for him to do so in the midst of his own personal life completely unraveling. I want Timothy Olyphant to pop out of the bottom of the boat and stare into the camera as he says, “This scene is not…JUSTIFIED!”
The typical response to criticisms like these is, “lighten up, man, it’s a joke!” That response is dumber than this movie. (And the response to that is “WHAT is a joke?”) But all of these complaints, are the LEAST of the movie’s problems. Were it to stop with an unimaginative, cash-grabbing, lukewarm rehash of the first movie, it would simply be something unenjoyable, not something loathsome. But make no mistake: The Hangover Part II is loathsome. Let’s start with how much of a FUCKING ASSHOLE everyone in this movie is? Because everyone in this movie is a TOTAL FUCKING ASSHOLE! (With the possible exception of Justin Bartha. Aww. Poor Justin Bartha.) Like, Bradley Cooper was certainly a bit of an arrogant jerk in the movie, but now he’s just a full blown nightmare of a human being. Immediately after disparaging his best friend’s upcoming wedding, he commits a federal crime that could land them both in prison? Cool. The worst of this, though, is that now Zach’s character is also a jerk? When did that happen? He was stupid and careless in the first movie, but never mean. Now he is. And I’m not just talking about his relationship with “Teddy,” which is overly aggressive and results in everyone being shot and amputated and fucked, literally, but also kind of makes sense that he is a man-child and his group of friends has been “infiltrated.” But even just at the engagement ceremony, when he steals Ed Helms’s fiance’s champagne and walks around like he needs to take a revenge dump. What is going on here? When did everyone get infected with the Rage Virus? (This was also my problem with the movie Due Date, in which Robert Downey Jr. played one of the worst people ever played.)
Oh, and did I mention that they are all sociopaths now? Because it turns out they’re all sociopaths. Look, we’ve all seen Brokedown Palace (and Bridget Jones Diary 2: The Edge of Reason) and we are all appropriately terrified of Thai prisons. But “you know you’re a sociopath when…” you think that someone has just died in front of you and that your chosen course of action is to lock his corpse in an ice machine. WHAT? They all agreed to this? With friends like these who needs GO TO JAIL. (This, of course, at the end of a long introductory sequence that is basically Hostel 2? Did I accidentally walk into Hostel 2? Because typically when I am watching a movie that is grimy, green-tinted, and full of severed fingers and SHRIEKING, I just assume that I am watching Hostel 2.)
At this point it barely even seems unnecessary to mention how Ken Jeong’s racist caricature is even more sad and offensive now that Ken Jeong has to revert back to that despite having a higher profile due to the first Hangover that would make you think he wouldn’t have to play parts like this and also just no one should play parts like this it’s terrible?
Which brings us to the movie’s disgusting homophobia. Yiiiiiiikes! Dramatic pause. YIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIKES! I’m not saying that it is inherently homophobic for someone to regret having had sex with a dude. That makes sense. You can regret having sex with anyone you want. As I said in the beginning: everyone is entitled to their opinion. I AM saying that it in a movie that features severed fingers, people getting shot, drug overdoses, kidnapped teenagers, unwise face tattoos the night before a wedding, kidnapped monks, overt racism, smoking monkeys, and hiding corpses, it is inherently homophobic to suggest that the absolute most disgusting and terrible thing that could possibly happen is two men having sex. Good grief. 2011, everybody. Sink it to the bottom of Whoops Ocean. The treads are all worn out.
It’s unfortunate, too. Because there are so many talented people involved with this movie. Oh well! It happens. Getting to buy a mansion happens. Maybe you disagree. Maybe you are more like those boys in the movie theater who thought it was the best. Fair enough. Just know that you like a terrible thing.