At the Movies: The Hangover II, Kung Fu Panda 2

It’s a holiday weekend so everything’s opening a day early. Not sure why. You get an extra day at the end of the weekend, why do you need an extra day before?

It’s also 2 week. So let’s get 2 it.

The Hangover Part II

Some movies are tailor-made for sequels, some aren’t. “The Hangover” is more the latter.

When “The Hangover” came out in 2009 it was crude, funny, outrageous and fresh. It also told a complete story. There’s really nothing more to be said. But it made a lot of money, so here we are.

Now how do you follow up — Guys have outrageous adventure after a bachelor party in Vegas? The answer appears to be — Guys have outrageous adventure after a bachelor party in Bangkok. “The Hangover Part II” is funny, crude and outrageous, but it’s hardly fresh.

This time around it’s Stu’s (Ed Helms) turn to tie the knot. Bride-to-be Lauren (Jamie Chung) is a native of Thailand, so that’s where the wedding will take place. Stu doesn’t want anything to go wrong, so he rejects Phil’s (Bradley Cooper) plans for a bachelor party. Stu also wants to avoid crazy-man Allen (Zach Galifianakis) but Phil and Doug (Justin Bartha) convince him to bring Allen along. Also tagging along is Lauren’s younger brother Teddy (Mason Lee).

Despite his protestations, Stu is persuaded to join the boys for drinks on the beach the night they arrive. The next morning Phil, Stu and Allen wake up in a dingy hotel in Bangkok. They have no memory of what happened the night before and have to put the pieces together in time for the wedding. They also have to find Teddy, who has disappeared.

If this sounds familiar, it should. That’s the plot of “The Hangover.” “The Hangover Part II” isn’t a sequel — it’s a remake with the original cast just transplanted to a new location.

To be fair, there are some new gags but as the story plods along down such a familiar path you can’t help but feel somewhat cheated.

I had a couple of other problems: Why Phil, and especially Stu, are willing to forgive Allen and remain his friend despite all his transgressions is beyond me; and it hard to believe that everyone is able to brush off what happens to Teddy. Lauren is the most forgiving fiance in movie history. And, it’s not like she’s marrying Bradley Cooper — she’s marring Ed Helms, for Pete’s sake.

But hey, it’s a comedy. It’s not supposed to make sense.

Did it work for me? Despite all my misgivings I thought it was OK. If you really loved the original you’ll probably like this one. It’s pretty much the same movie, after all.

Kung Fu Panda 2 

Now here’s a sequel that builds off its original and even answers a big question left hanging from the first film.

If you saw the original “Kung Fu Panda” you were probably wondering why Po (Jack Black), a panda bear, was being raised by Mr. Ping (James Hong), a goose. The sequel not only answers that question but makes it the central plot of the story.

Turns out many years ago an evil peacock named Lord Shen (Gary Oldman) was bent on world domination — or at least domination of China. A soothsayer (Michelle Yeoh) warned him that he would some day be taken down by a warrior in black and white. In true biblical fashion, Shen and his troops go through the countryside eliminating all pandas.

Po’s mother manages to hide the baby in a turnip truck and young Po winds up at the restaurant run by Mr. Ping. Ping raises Po until he claims his rightful place as the dragon warrior.

Po is now hanging out with his crime-fighting partners, protecting the land with the power of kung fu. His mentor Shifu (Dustin Hoffman) is trying to teach him inner peace but that’s hard to find when you’re having flashbacks to your childhood trauma.

Lord Shen, who was exiled by his parents after the whole panda thing, has now decided to come out of hiding. He’s built a number of cannons with which he’s certain he can overcome the power of kung fu and finally take over China.

“Kung Fu Panda 2” (I can’t call it KFP because that makes me think it’s Kentucky Fried Panda, and that’s just disturbing) is a fun movie in the spirit of the original and it also moves the characters forward while also delving into some back stories.

The voice work is fine, the animation is sharp, the story isn’t particularly original but the action sequences are excellent. A lot of live-action directors could learn how to better craft an action sequence from the “Kung Fu Panda” movies.

Did it work for me? Yes, plus — the 3D is actually good. If you’re willing to spend the extra cash, the 3D does enhance the movie.


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