Load up the car for Vegas but be sure to read this Friday Flashback before you make the trip for THE HANGOVER PART III.
THE HANGOVER and THE HANGOVER PART II (both in brief)
I find it hard to believe that there is anyone currently living on this planet who has not see THE HANGOVER yet and has the remotest of interests in HANGOVER PART III. It’s only be four years (that makes 4 movies in 3 years people!) and HANGOVER made, I think, a gajillion dollars, so…
Nonetheless, here’s my briefest of brief reviews. It is as funny as I remember it being, the bits with Tyson (while a morally questionable choice for the film to make) and the photo montage at the end remain strong even though they no longer are a surprise. Galifianakis maybe the big discovery of this film, but I honestly think that Ed Helms is the big winner with a character that’s funny enough to let people know he can play funny but not so broad as to run the risk of instant typecasting. Bradley Cooper equates himself well as well, despite being a very pretty man. This, of course, is not surprise to anyone who saw WET HOT AMERICAN SUMMER, but, sadly, not enough people did.
Supporting players like the aforementioned Tyson, Heather Graham in arguably the film’s best female role (women did not fare well particular well either because they are underwritten or because they are written as unequivocably terrible people as Rachel Harris’s character, Helms’ fiancé, and Jeffrey Tambor give some solid work. Justin Bartha is pretty much a non-factor. Sorry, but there it is.
It’s not flawless, mind you. The gay humor—mostly early on, provided by Cooper, directed toward Helms—grates more now than then, perhaps because I know it is coming now. Bartha who is supposedly the lead ends up much like Kevin in AMERICAN PIE, upstaged to the point of irrelevance.
But overall, it remains a high recommend for me.
HANGOVER PART II, on the other hand, suffers from what I think plagues many sequels, in general, but especially comedies. It gives the fans more of the same without an understanding that what made “the same” work the first time around was that it was genuinely now. Rather than differentiate itself from its predecessor, PART II doubles down on virtually the same plot, with a bigger location, crazier (but still same-y) hijinks, and a monkey with Helms as the almost-groom and his future brother-in-law as the missing member. It is perhaps best summed up by Cooper’s line, “It happened again.”
It’s still fun at points and the Cooper-Helms-Galifiankis triad has undeniable chemistry so I wouldn’t say don’t see it, but manage those expectations from the get-go.
Director Todd Phillips first big effort was 2000’s ROAD TRIP, a pleasant surprise of a film the centers on a group of friends racing across the country to stop a sex tape one of them made, Breckin Meyer, from reaching his long-distance girlfriend at her college and thus discover he had cheated on her.
Surprisingly sweet for a movie that centers on a sex tape and features Tom Green in a prominent role, it is actually, weirdly, one of the more female friendly offerings in Phillips’ catalog. Amy Smart, playing the classmate Meyer cheated with, is given agency and while the movie is all about the boys, she does not simply wait around for them to resolve the issue. Later on, Mia Amber Davis (who unfortunately died just over two years ago after what should’ve been a fairly minor, routine knee surgery) shows up as possible love interest for DJ Qualls’ Kyle and it is clear we are supposed to laugh at their differences: he’s pale and thin as can be, she’s black and very heavy, but she projects such a genuine warmth that what could’ve come across as very mean spirited actually comes up heartening.
This one is nothing artistic and the plot is repeated, with minor variations, in at least two other films, but it is one that I just like. I recommend.