The Hangover Part 2

A rule for any sequel is to either equal or better its initial outing.  This ensures more people see it and generate the cash producers crave.  As The Hangover made oodles of filthy lucre a follow-up was assured.  Although adhering to the ‘equal’ aspect of the sequel manual, it isn’t necessarily better with director Todd Phillips and the boorish lads going about their mayhem in a less frenetic pace than previously.

Travelling to Thailand for their friend Stu’s (Ed Helms) wedding, good friends Phil (Bradley Cooper), Alan (Zach Galifianakis) and Doug (Justin Bartha) prepare for a good time.  Despite Stu’s insistence on having a quiet simple occasion, with this trio around such an event fails to materialise.  As one calamity leads to another, the foreign locale proves little match for their haze fuelled debauchery.

It’s not often a sequel plagiarizes what went on before so shamelessly, although given the film’s participants have no shame this is probably appropriate.  Virtually a re-run of the first with only the setting changed, there’s little evidence of much effort having gone into generating something different even if it still raises many smiles. The excellent chemistry between the cast is a major factor in its enjoyment with their characters being so eccentric and strange that the phrase ‘never a dull moment’ seems invented for them.

These films can’t be called cinematic masterpieces and perhaps that’s why they are so successful.  Nothing is out of bounds in drawing laughs from any bizarre circumstances with this boldness an antidote to those tired of the safe formulaic comedies currently swamping screens.  It’s low-brow and proud of it, although it’s difficult to see how a third could be made unless the producers push the envelope into ever further outlandish situations. 

The Hangover Part 2 could have been better but is generally enjoyable for most of its length.  Original it isn’t with the ‘play-safe’ option going into over-drive but should satisfy fans wanting to see a bawdy mirth maker.

Rating out of 10:  6

Get Low

There’s nothing better than watching a group of fantastic actors having a grand time essaying their craft. When they are of the calibre of Robert Duvall, Sissy Spacek and Bill Murray, this pleasure is increased as one knows they are always great value.  Get Low certainly benefits from their presence with its quirky tale of redemption and opportunism made more enjoyable by their beguiling performances.

Old Felix (Robert Duvall) is a feared hermit living in the woods. Everyone in the local village fears him due to an unseemly episode decades earlier where a couple were killed.  When he walks into town, their curiosity is piqued when he demands a living funeral.  Sensing he could make money out of the wealthy old-timer, funeral director Frank (Bill Murray) and assistant Buddy (Lucas Black) arrange a spectacular wake.  When Mattie (Sissy Spacek) enters the scene old secrets surface which sees Felix’s eccentric ways spiral out of control.

Mixing drama with acerbic comedy, Director Aaron Schneider does a good job in handling both.  He infuses Get Low with an overall sense of tortured anxiety with Felix desperately wanting forgiveness for past misdemeanours.  His reputation precedes him with hearsay and outright lies building upon his mystique.  What transpires is someone using others to release himself from a self-imposed exile with Frank’s unscrupulous ways a perfect avenue for Felix to use this to his advantage.

Get Low is very much a character driven piece with the humour flowing gently amongst some heavy drama.  A skill not many movies can perfect, its screenplay deftly teases out the emotions ensuring the authentic feel it aims for remains.   The finely pitched performances enable these qualities to surface with the actors given ample opportunity to play to their strengths in well written roles.

Whilst perhaps somewhat slow in places, Get Low always engages due to its good story.  The cast should be proud of their efforts bringing the story to life with their own extraordinary thespian talents.

Rating out of 10:  7