Friday, January 13, 2012

The Hangover: Part II

At one time I was content with the notion of a carbon-copy sequel. Take Home Alone, for example. At nine years old, I was perfectly happy to see Kevin McCallister romp through the streets of New York as opposed to suburban Chicago in a film that was otherwise the same as its predecessor. The Hangover: Part II is essentially Todd Phillips’ Home Alone 2; except Daniel Stern and Joe Pesci’s shtick is much more bearable than watching Zach Galifianakis desperately try to rekindle the laughs he elicited from audiences with the original. I tried with this film—I really did—but it was no use. Props go to Phillips for the atmosphere and the look, but everything that seemed to work about the first first go-round falls flat here. This left me to wonder whether Phillips has any inkling as to what made the first movie work so well. Sure, we loved the Wolf Pack, but the individual comedy bits weren’t what set The Hangover apart from other comedies. There was a novelty to its brashness that gave it an enduring quality, and Part II all too well articulates this. (Todd Phillips, 2011)


Damian Arlyn said...

You articulated exactly why I have no desire to watch this film, Ted. I liked the first one well enough but when you put the same characters through the EXACT same situation (only in a different setting), you're absolutely right in that you're not making a sequel but a "carbon copy" of the first (incidentally, your example of HOLE ALONE 2 is the same one that I always use as that of the worst kind of "carbon copy" sequel). All sequels are commercially motivated to some degree, but many at least try to continue the story or develop the characters. This is the crassest kind of money-making endeavor one can see in Hollywood ad at that point I just don't care anymore.

Did you know they're making a third one now too?

Ted Pigeon said...

I'm not entirely opposed to humor that references another film or comedy bits that play off of previous movies in a series. I'm not lying that I wanted to enjoy this movie. I'm pretty forgiving of sequels, particularly comedy sequels. (When Nature Calls, anyone?)

But to add to what you're saying and specifically my last point about The Hangover: Part II, this film may actually be one of the few cases in which a bad sequel deservedly damages the reputation of the original film.

Damian Arlyn said...

Like you, Ted, I'm also "not entirely opposed to humor that references another film or comedy bits that play off of previous movies in a series." In fact, I expect it in sequels to a certain degree. That's part of the fun. In DIE HARD 2, they even acknowledge the absurdity of it by having Bruce Willis declare "How can the same s**t happen to the same guy twice?"

What I hate is when sequels either follow their predecessors' stories note-for-note (having a corresponding scene in the sequel for every scene in the original) or simply "undo" everything that was accomplished by the conclusion of the fist one. After the traumatic events that happened in HOME ALONE, for example, the family goes right back to hating Kevin and he has forgotten how to value them once again. It's as if he/they didn't learn anything from their adventure ONE YEAR AGO. It's like it never happened (except we know it did happen because they keep referencing it in the dialogue). No lessons learned. Nothing changed. It's just another Christmas for the McCalister family.

Going back to DIE HARD 2, although imperfect it is at least a sequel that heavily imitates its namesake without making it feel like it's a mere carbon copy. John McClane has to once again save his wife (and a lot of other hostages) from deadly terrorists, but at least he wasn't estranged from her at the start of the second film. The events of the first one were significant enough that it genuinely affected their relationship. The filmmakers allowed the previous film's exploits to change them as characters and I liked that... at least until the third one rolled around (but that's another rant).