Previous Joints

Friday, 17 May 2013

In defence of The Hangover... 2

I am not embarrassed to say that I like The Hangover films - both of them. I am equally unembarrassed to admit that I probably prefer the second film to the first. I truly believe both Hangover films are misunderstood – especially the Wolf Pack’s adventure in Thailand.


The conventional wisdom is that Part 2 is a total rip-off of first Hangover film. I get the argument, you get the same film by just replacing one element with another: substitute Doug going missing in the first one for Stu’s future brother in-law being missing in the second film; the baby in the first film with a monkey in the second; and Heather Graham’s Jade in the original for the transvestite prostitute in sequel.

The problem with this theory is that it misses the point of why films like the Hangover exist and why they are so popular. I am also convinced that this theory was drawn up by film critiques, such as myself, that feel like they are better than the people that clearly enjoy such films. Enjoy – that’s a very complicated word in the ‘film critic’ vocabulary. It is very hard not to look for a meaning in a film and it’s equally as hard not to belittle a film when you don’t find a meaning in it. Sometimes it seems like critics forget that the majority of people go to the cinema or watch a film at their homes for pure escapism and fun. They don’t want to think, they don’t want to ponder about some great philosophical theory presented in the film – they just want to forget about their everyday lives for an hour or two. This is doubly the case when it comes to comedy films and the Hangovers are a perfect example of this.

The Hangover films are pure escapism – you just can’t take them seriously and that isn’t a bad thing what-so-ever. What is also important is that both films carry their unbelievability with great confidence. Basically, the films don’t care how outrageous they are and that abandonment sells the set pieces such as the boys having to take Mike Tyson’s pet tiger back or the car chase which was initiated by a smoking monkey.


Another thing about comedy films which I have grown to realise is that they are very difficult to get right. Comedy is one of those things that is very personal and everyone has an opinion. I have people in my life that prefer their comedy light-hearted with a hint of slap stick and others who like it dead-pan.

A lot of commercially successful comedy films are aimed at a family audience. I can’t think of a comedy in recent years which had a 15 certificate that has done as well as both Hangover films and that can’t be disregarded.

Now, I personally like my comedy outrageous with sprinklings of sexual humour and I guess it’s for that reason why these films sit so right with me – especially the second one. I admit that the second film follows the blueprint from the original very closely, but what makes it stand out is its scope and ambition. It almost feels as if the second film is the one Todd Phillips actually wanted to make but couldn’t quite get it cleared by the Hollywood executives the first time around. The stunts are bigger, the jokes ruder and ... (*sigh*) the transvestite...


I have never heard a crowded cinema gasp in shock and disbelief during a comedy film until The Hangover 2 and the scene in the Thailand strip bar.


Who hasn’t been on a wild-bender? As a tee-totaller, I haven’t. But, what I mean to say is, who doesn’t want to go on a wild-holiday with their closest pals? 

The most important thing about these films is that the characters are so likeable. That is the Hangover film’s biggest selling point. The Wolf-Pack’s exploits may not be believable, but every single character (apart from Alan) is down to earth. You almost want to be friends with these people – including Alan.

I guess the reason why I prefer the second to the first film is down to the fact that I know the characters better by Part 2 – it’s like revisiting old friends getting up to their old tricks.


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