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‘Hangover II’ is a remake passing as a sequel. Also reviewed: ‘Panda 2’ and ‘The Beaver.’

By Lori Hoffman
Add Comment Add Comment | Comments: 5 | Posted Jun. 1, 2011

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'The Hangover II'

I’m not going to waste your time and mine by going into any details about the disappointing remake of The Hangover that is officially designated as a sequel, Hangover, Part II, again directed by Todd Phillips. Of course audiences expected some rehashing of the original since we are talking about the aftermath of another alcoholic and drug-induced bender featuring the return of the Wolf Pack — Stu (Ed Helms), Phil (Bradley Cooper), Alan (Zack Galifianakis) and Doug (Justin Bartha), the latter once again left behind, luckily for him.


However, that is no excuse for throwing together a “sequel” the follows the same path except that the setting is Thailand rather than Vegas, with five credited writers who have made the film darker, much less funny and provided the type of bad behavior in another country that pretty much defines the term “ugly Americans.”


Because of the dark edge that includes a character losing a finger and some “alternative” sexual hyjinks, this film almost feels like a blend of The Hangover and the pitch black comedy Very Bad Things, which is also about a bachelor party gone very wrong.


Unfortunately, the resulting movie is a lot worse than either of those two films.


Puppet Master
 

You have to admire Jodie Foster. For someone who has only made two previous films as a director, and is already limiting her audience with her indie film drama mindset, giving her friend Mel Gibson the title role in The Beaver pretty much guaranteed that the box office results would be bleak. However, the two time Academy Award winning actress wanted the best actor for the role and Gibson delivers with a brilliant performance as a mentally damaged family man. 


When we meet Walter Black, he is in a deep depression that will only be relieved in his mind by killing himself. He then finds an ugly beaver puppet in the trash and starts letting the puppet do all his talking. His wife believes him when Walter hands her a card that says this is a form of therapy suggested by his doctor, and his youngest son thinks The Beaver is really cool. His teenage son Porter (Anton Yelchin), however, wonders why his mother is accepting this behavior. Gibson is the boss at the toy company so you understand why his co-workers (including Cherry Jones of 24 fame) decide to go along with this insanity.


Mental illness is not a topic that often finds its way to the big screen, especially when there is only a hint of humor around the edges. The film works thanks to the performance by Gibson. Despite his messy personal life laid bare on the Internet and tabloid headlines, he still has talent. The Beaver also features top supporting performances from two of the best young actors in Hollywood, recent Oscar nominee Jennifer Lawrence (Winter’s Bone) and Yelchin (Star Trek, Terminator Salvation).


The Beaver is an odd little movie, but it is also oddly fascinating.


More Kung Fu Fun


Kung Fu Panda 2 is a sequel that provides family fun without too much rehashing of the original film. The filmmakers came up with another villain who needs to be vanquished by the Dragon Warrior Po (Jack Black) and his kung fu pals the furious five — Tigress (Angelina Jolie), Monkey (Jackie Chan), Viper (Lucy Liu), Crane (David Cross) and Mantis (Seth Rogan).


The story also gives us more information about how Po came to be adopted by a goose and how this new villain, the evil peacock Shen (Gary Oldman), had a hand in Po’s life when he was an adorable radish-eating baby.


The action sequences are truly exciting and visually stunning. And, as if we didn’t have enough vocal powerhouses from the original film returning (including Dustin Hoffman as Master Shifu and James Hong as Po’s dad Mr. Ping), the additions beyond Oldman include Dennis Haysbert, Jean-Claude Van Damme and Michelle Yeoh.

The Hangover Part II *½


Directed by Todd Phillips; rated R


The Beaver **½


Directed by Jodie Foster; rated PG-13


Kung Fu Panda 2 **½


Directed by Jennifer Yuh; rated PG


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1. Joe Doakes said... on Jun 1, 2011 at 06:37PM

“Jodie Foster had to be chagrined to say the best for Gibson as the film was nearing release. I guess she chose him before his domestic relations made the news. I give her some credit for doing what she could, but fault her for chosing him in the first place. Mel was bringing too much baggage to this role. Maybe they both were thinking it could have been some kind of redemption for him.”

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2. Anonymous said... on Jun 1, 2011 at 07:12PM

“This "writer" is brain dead. THE BEAVER tanked at the Box Office. With a 21 million dollar budget, it has yet to bring in 1 million leaving the producers, studios and those who financed the film with no return on their investment. THE BEAVER caused many people to LOSE MONEY (that does not bode well in Hollywood or any business for that matter)

HANGOVER 2 has grossed upwards of 200 million worldwide and with a production budget of 80 millions that's a GREAT return on investment.

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3. Anonymous said... on Jun 2, 2011 at 12:44PM

“Sounds like #2 is the brain dead one. At no point did the writer even bring up the BO results, only was reviewing the movies. So Hangover 2 made money - that doesn't make it a good movie. Likewise, LOTS of excellent movies never make their money back, but that doesn't make them well-acted, scripted movies. Sadly in this day and age, overblown crap like HO2 makes money. Thank god, Hollywood still has a little bit of balls left to do some of the smaller more meaningful fare.”

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4. Anonymous said... on Jun 2, 2011 at 12:45PM

“Sounds like #2 is the brain dead one. At no point did the writer even bring up the BO results, only was reviewing the movies. So Hangover 2 made money - that doesn't make it a good movie. Likewise, LOTS of excellent movies never make their money back, but that doesn't make them not well-acted, scripted movies. Sadly in this day and age, overblown crap like HO2 makes money. Thank god, Hollywood still has a little bit of balls left to do some of the smaller more meaningful fare.”

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5. Anonymous said... on Jun 6, 2011 at 12:25AM

“I agree with Lori Hoffman about Hangover 2. It just did not have the sense of joy or campiness that the first one had--and could not help but be gratuitiously racist and fratboy stupid at some points (what is the silly referent to the smoking monkey who likes to give blow jobs? really? really? this is supposed to be funny--for whom?) And why make fun of Buddhist monks--I was thrilled when they got the crap beat out of them in the monastery. Very unbuddhist of me, I know.. Just because it made so much money does not mean it is 1) as good as the first one; 2) very good at all. And yes, it does stereotype the ugly american, yet again.”

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