Thursday May 26th 2011
The Odeon Leicester Square seats 1683 people, more than any other cinema in the UK. Given that this far exceeds the number of people usually invited to press screenings, it is clearly an unnecessarily large (and expensive) venue for such an event. As such, few movies are press screened there, and when they are it’s usually for one of a few specific reasons.
In the case of Hangover 2 (sorry, that’s The Hangover: Part II - I forgot this was Quality Filmmaking for a second), the reason is simple: more people equals more laughs equals more reviewers convinced they had a good time. It’s mathematical, you get me?
There was even free beer at the screening (never happens at the Odeon Leicester Square) and as if that weren’t enough to get people ready for The Comedy Experience of 2011™, the film was preceded by a message from Gok bloody Wan.
He assured us that he’d been asked personally (by who? the stars? the director? God?) to introduce the film, and said that he hoped we all enjoyed it. Because, you know, this screening means a lot to everyone involved, okay? and you better like it, please like it, please.
Cut a long story short: I didn’t like it. To be honest, I wasn’t much of a fan of the first one either – it was a little too try-hard and mean-spirited for my liking. But seeing the cast and crew reunited two years on in a desperate attempt to replicate their past success, I felt a strange tinge of nostalgia for the first entry in what will inevitably become a trilogy. At least it had an original concept, consistent laughs and some surprising plot turns, whereas its sequel brings a whole new level of meaning to the phrase ‘phoned in’.
In continuing the story of Phil, Stu and Alan, director Todd Phillips and co have made the strange decision to essentially remake the first movie – and not remake in the ‘oh, Transformers 2 is just a remake of Transformers‘ sense, but in the actual ‘scene-for-scene remake’ sense. Every aspect of the movie is so intricately similar to its predecessor that you start to wonder whether this is all some kind of elaborate art statement. Even when the similarities are signposted by the characters themselves (the line ‘it happened again’ gets several airings) it’s hard to shake the feeling that you know exactly what’s going to happen at every moment.
Perhaps sensing that his movie’s at risk of ending up a bit Gus-Van-Sant’s-Psycho, Phillips does what any self-respecting comedy filmmaker would do these days and UPS THE FUCKING ANTE. Did I say FUCKING ANTE? I obviously meant CUNTING ANTE.
Yes, ‘cunt’ shows up about twenty minutes into the proceedings and we’re all supposed to fall about ourselves in hysterics at how daring and edgy the film is for having the temerity to utter such a syllable. Comedy writers should think themselves very lucky that we still live in a society where a non-discriminatory swear word has such power. Of course, it’s impact can only go so far, at which point you have to bring in the heavy artillery: genitalia.
In case you’ve been wondering, this is what the male and female genitalia look like:
There, I just ruined most of the biggest jokes in The Hangover: Part II.
Of course, the plot isn’t exactly the same as last time. ‘The Wolfpack’ have relocated to Thailand, which gives the writers a chance to add ‘xeno’ to their already extensive list of phobias. To their credit, they never actually use a Bangkok pun, but it isn’t much of a consolation when entire scenes are being played out purely for the purpose of laughing at someone with an accent. Gays get a pretty bad rap too, and it goes without saying that women are of no value in the Hangover universe.
So, basically, The Hangover: Part II is tasteless, pointless, tactless and pretty much anything else you care to stick the ‘-less’ suffix on. It’s nice to see that Ed Helms, Zack Galianakis and Bradley Cooper have retained their on-screen chemistry after going their separate Hollywood ways, but this shit is far below them and they seem to know it.
Still, how often do you get a chance to borrow images from the ‘Human penis’ Wikipedia entry for a movie review? Not very often, I can tell you.