Tag Archives: Hangover

Movie Review: Last Vegas (2013)


The idea’s not too bad: a bunch of old friends (emphasis on “old”) catch up for one final hurrah in Las Vegas. Throw in four huge stars — Michael Douglas, Robert De Niro, Morgan Freeman and Kevin Klein — as the leads, toss in a few old jokes (again, emphasis on “old”), and that’s Last Vegas in a nutshell.

I didn’t have a huge problem with Last Vegas, but there was really nothing to like about it either. Directed by Jon Turteltaub (Cool Runnings, National Treasure 1 & 2, and The Sorcerer’s Apprentice), it’s a very safe, mildly amusing comedy driven by the star power of its four leads. On the other hand, there’s not much to sustain the film apart from the gimmicky old jokes, and the result is a frequently lame, utterly forgettable experience that you’ll likely erase from your memory in a hurry. It’s a film that wouldn’t have been contemplated without its stars, and is in any case probably best reserved for the straight-to-DVD rack.

Douglas, De Niro, Freeman and Klein are childhood friends who grew up on the tough streets of Brooklyn and remain in touch today as seniors dealing with their own separate problems. De Niro’s character is still mourning the loss of his wife, Freeman’s character is battling an array of physical ailments and his overbearing family, and Klein seems to have lost interest in life. In comes Douglas’s character, seemingly the most charismatic of the group, who is about to get married to a woman less than half his age, and decides to throw a bachelor party in Vegas with his three oldest friends.

So as you might have guessed, the whole fish-out-of-water scenario is designed to put four old guys in a place they’re not expected to be comfortable with, and having us watch them have fun drinking, dancing, splurging and having the time of their lives. The Hangover for Geriatrics is essentially the idea, and it’s not a bad idea, except that it doesn’t work for very long. The running joke throughout the film is that old people are clueless and not cool, a schtick that just keeps getting rehashed again and again. But given that they are the protagonists, the film then tries very hard to convince us that they are, after all, very cool indeed, and young punks who disrespect them will come to regret it. And of course, all four of our heroes will learn important life lessons when it’s all said and done.

I’ll have to be brutally honest here. After a nice setup, the film devolves into cliches and becomes painful to sit through. The jokes are obvious and repetitive, and despite the best efforts of its stars (including the adorable Mary Steenburgen as the love interest), the film is inescapably bland and predictable until its merciful conclusion. It’s not horrible, it’s just…meh.

I am probably making Last Vegas sound a lot worse than it actually is. If you are in the mood for a streamlined plot, obvious jokes and 105 minutes of stereotypical icky Hollywood feel-goodness, then Last Vegas is borderline enjoyable. If you expect more than that from a film with four screen legends, like I did, then chances are you’ll end up bitterly disappointed.

2 stars out of 5

Movie Review: The Hangover Part III (2013)


The Hangover Part III is a misleading title because, unlike the first two films in the series, there is no hangover involved. Everyone is, for the most part, sober, meaning the film is not (thankfully) rehashing the old formula where a bunch of guys wake up from being so drunk that they have to retrace their steps to figure out what on earth happened the night before. What Part III is, in effect, is a heist film, and I’m not quite sure if that is a good thing.

In the “epic finale” to the Hangover trilogy, the Wolfpack’s past catches up with them and they must help a gangster (played by John Goodman) track down insane escaped prisoner Leslie Chow (Ken Jeong). The Wolfpack spends the majority of the film running around trying to break into places and doing stupid stuff. Instead of trying to figure out what happened the night before, they are trying to figure out how to stay alive. It’s different to the formula that made the original such a huge hit, but after the vitriol that followed the second film, it was indeed time to make a change.

For me, the problem with Part III is that it’s still just not that funny. Most of the laughs, which are extremely hit-and-miss, still come from two sources — Zach Galifianakis’s mentally disturbed Alan, and the crazy and over-the-top antics of Ken Jeong as Chow. Both of these characters are essentially one-trick ponies. Alan does and says stupid, infantile and random things, and Chow is just nuts. You may get a couple of giggles here and there if that’s your thing, but the act gets old in a hurry. And if you already had enough of both of these guys after the two previous films, then chances are you’ll hate this one.

On the positive side, at least the plot is different to its two predecessors, and because of that there is an element of freshness. But even as a heist film, it’s still not very good. The ideas and the action are all rather stale and offer no genuine excitement. I guess it’s hard to get excited when you never really cared about any of the characters.

Now keep in mind, I wasn’t one of those people who fell madly in love with the original Hangover, which was an instant hit lauded for its outrageousness and comedic sting, and more or less made the careers of Bradley Cooper and Zach Galifianakis (and to a lesser extent Ed Helms and Ken Jeong). I didn’t find it particularly funny apart from some unexpected Ken Jeong moments, and he got on my nerves after a little while. The second film was a disaster and one of the worst films of 2011. It was offensive and painfully unfunny.

So in comparison, I suppose Part III isn’t too bad. It’s better than the second film by default but lacks the explosiveness of the original, which I didn’t find that great either. It’s just a barely passable comedy, and only if you really like the stars.

2 stars out of 5

Movie Review: The Hangover Part II (2011)

I’m probably one of the rare few that didn’t think The Hangover was an awesome film.  A clever premise, interesting characters, and some wild, outrageous and completely insane situations — yes — but personally I didn’t find it all that funny.

A couple of my friends told me that the sequel, The Hangover Part II, was very very funny, so despite my wariness, I went and checked it out.

Mmm…like the characters in the film, I honestly couldn’t remember a whole lot about the original, but even so, this sequel felt eerily similar, almost recycled.  The same bunch of guys have a wild night out before a wedding, get plastered, can’t remember anything the next morning, and have to retrace their steps in limited time to find a missing person.  Like the predecessor, it’s crazy, crude, often disgusting and utterly improbable — meaning if you enjoyed the original you’ll probably like this one too.

Unfortunately for me, it meant another pretty average experience.

Moving the ‘Wolfpack’ to Bangkok was a step up from Vegas, and they sure did exploit the beautiful scenery, the vastly different culture, the squalid parts of the city and the language barrier.  I also thought the three main characters — Phil (Bradley Cooper), Stu (Ed Helms) and Alan (Zach Galifianakis) — provided a formidable trio with distinct personalities that meshed well together.

But ultimately, The Hangover Part II just wasn’t very funny.  Well, perhaps I should clarify by saying that it’s not my kind of humour.  Like the first film, it relied on outrageous situations, gross out scenarios and random/awkard/uncomfortable moments provided by Galifianakis (who shot to stardom after the original).  It’s a formula that obviously worked for audiences the first time, but I could count the number of genuine laughs I had from this film on one hand.  A big reason for that was because a lot of the gags, especially the sexual ones, were telegraphed and you could see them coming a mile away.

The biggest disappointment for me was the Asian gangster Leslie Chow (Ken Jeong), who for me was absolutely the bright spark of the original.  In the sequel, however, I felt his jokes were more scripted rather than ad libbed, and as a result he wasn’t nearly as funny as he was or should have been.  I still love Ken but he couldn’t lift the film this time.

Having said all that, I still maintained interest in the story most of way through because of the curiosity factor — after all, I did want to find out what happened to them that night.  But as was the case with the original, that knowledge didn’t mean much by the end.

2 stars out of 5

Movie Review: Due Date (2010)

Due Date did not appeal to me at all when I first saw the poster and caught a glimpse of the trailer.

Robert Downey Jr as a man trying to head home to his pregnant wife, and Zach Galifianakis as the annoying weirdo that somehow gets stuck with him on this cross-country road trip.  I’ll admit that’s a premise with some potential for laughs, but to be honest it seemed a bit dull — plus the film is directed by Todd Phillips, whose highly rated hit The Hangover was somewhat overrated in my humble opinion.

And so I went into Due Date with relatively low expectations, but at the same time expecting to be pleasantly surprised (if that makes sense).  The verdict?  Well…while there were a few laugh-out-loud moments, Due Date was not particularly or consistently funny.  Fans of The Hangover might like it, but it wasn’t my cup of tea.

Forget the formulaic plot and the gaping plotholes — like The Hangover, the humour in Due Date was very coarse, in your face, over the top, violent, dirty and messy all rolled into one.  Almost all the jokes stemmed from the insane, random and extremely anti-social behaviour of Galifianakis’s character Ethan Tremblay.  He’s essentially a nightmarish twit with, I assume, at least a few personality disorders — and the biggest problem is that there is very little to like about his character.  However, I will have to say that Zach Galifianakis is a much better actor than I thought.

I was a big fan of the Steve Martin/John Candy movie Planes, Trains and Automobiles, which is actually very similar in premise and plot, but I’m afraid Due Date was a waste of Robert Downey Jr’s immense talent.  I did enjoy a couple of moments, but this was essentially two guys being very obnoxious for a very long-feeling 95 minutes.

2 stars out of 5