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.
Zach Galifianakis understands that his breakthrough success in last year’s The Hangover has left fans with certain expectations. They want a sequel to Todd Phillips’ comedy about four guys (and one innocent babe) gone wild during a pre-wedding Vegas trip, and they’ll get one in 2011. But more than that, they want Galifianakis, a veteran stand-up and onetime Saturday Night Live writer, to make them laugh.
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.
As always, here's a list of some of the finest films currently in rotation at a San Francisco indie theater near you.
Where: Embarcadero Center Cinema, 1 Embarcadero Ctr., 415-352-0835
When: All Week
Why: Isolation and an early-life epiphany await Miguel "Sugar" Santos (Algenis Perez Soto), a Dominican pitching prospect who comes to question the limited scope of his professional ambition during a minor-league stint in rural Iowa. Written and directed by Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck (2006’s Half Nelson), Sugar is a moving, unflinchingly honest take on the immigrant experience, infused with an obvious passion for America’s pastime.