A seemingly interminable slog through the Bangkok underworld, where a familiar scenario plays itself out to the point of exhaustion for three wedding-bound wrecks – searching once more for a misplaced buddy – arrives by way of The Hangover Part II. Whether nostalgia in this case breeds delight or contempt depends on which aspects of the original Hangover (2009) you remember most fondly.
Now that Hollywood has exhausted most of the best-known ’70s TV series, directors like Joe Carnahan, 41, can sink their teeth into big-screen adaptations of the shows they grew up with – in this case, Stephen Cannell and Frank Lupo’s family-friendly ’80s fantasy about a team of noble vigilantes-for-hire, framed for robbing a Hanoi bank during the Vietnam War.
Baghdad replaces Hanoi in Carnahan’s flashy update, which finds the fighting foursome wrongfully blamed for stealing U.S. Treasury minting plates, but little else has changed.
Valentine’s Day is as much about director Garry Marshall’s love of Los Angeles as it is about the popular pagan-inspired holiday. And give the man credit — he’s nothing if not thorough in showing it. Here, he has gone out of his way to make room for a cattle call of Hollywood stars in a fairy tale that makes a passing pretense of cynicism before giving most of its luminous cast their happily-ever-afters.
Todd Phillips may never be afforded the same respect as his more venerated peers, if only because directors who spend their careers chronicling the foolishness of badly behaving men rarely do. But it’s hard to ignore his track record.
Save for his remake of Robert Hamer’s 1960 comedy School for Scoundrels, unseen by me but roundly dismissed by others, Phillips has earned justified praise for his affable depictions of testosterone-driven silliness in movies like Road Trip and Old School. The Hangover finds him going to the well once more, with results that are laughably deranged but hardly preposterous to anyone who’s ever lost a weekend in Vegas.