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If you’re one of those who consider The Hangover the greatest comedy ever made – heck, maybe even the greatest movie ever made – then this review might prove to be entirely useless, as The Hangover Part II stands a wonderful chance of earning your vote as the second greatest comedy ever made. Then again, it’s entirely possible you might recognize the sheer laziness that defines this cash–grabbing sequel. Now, of course the bottom line for every sequel is to further line studio coffers, but many follow–ups at least make some sort of effort. Even more than the latest Pirates of the Caribbean romp, The Hangover Part II displays an alarming lack of originality and drive, in essence merely copying the exact same gags, scenarios and, unbelievably, occasional camera shots from the original. It isn’t as mean–spirited or misogynistic as its predecessor, and there are a couple more chuckles, but otherwise, the only way future generations will be able to tell the pair apart is that one’s set in Las Vegas while the other takes place in Bangkok. In this outing, Stu (Ed Helms, again the MVP among this motley crew) heads to Thailand to get married and takes buddies Phil (Bradley Cooper), Doug (Justin Bartha) and, with much reluctance, Alan (the perennially annoying Jach Galifianakis, simply not my cup of comedic tea) with him. It’s deja vu all over again, as Phil, Stu and Alan party late and wake up the next morning with no idea of what transpired the night before. Those yearning for some summertime bawdiness at the movies would be well–advised to check out Bridesmaids instead, as any random scene in that picture is better than anything on display in The Hangover Part II.

KUNG FU PANDA 2 For all of its uselessness when it comes to live–action films not named Avatar, the 3-D gimmick is a logical fit when it comes to animated efforts, as witnessed by its employment in (among others) Toy Story 3, Despicable Me and now Kung Fu Panda 2. Yet it isn’t just that extra dimension that elevates this agreeable sequel to the 2008 blockbuster. As was the case with this spring’s Rango, Kung Fu Panda 2 displays a terrific set design that’s atypically detailed and vibrant for a toon flick. Whereas it was ace cinematographer Roger Deakins (True

Grit) who served as visual consultant on that Johnny Depp vehicle, here it’s Pan’s Labyrinth director Guillermo del Toro who’s billed as creative consultant, clear examples of studios not cutting corners when it comes to acquiring the best. KFP2’s backgrounds are frequently so gorgeous to behold that aspiring art directors might further pad the film’s box office haul via repeat viewings. Everyone else will probably be satisfied after one showing, as the serviceable story finds Po (returning star Jack Black) again teaming up with the kung fu masters collectively known as The Furious Five (Angelina Jolie and her underused co–stars Jackie Chan, Seth Rogen, Lucy Liu and David Cross), this time to vanquish a deadly enemy (Gary Oldman) who holds the key to Po’s mysterious past. The kids will have a good time, and the adults will be entertained to the point that they won’t secretly be wondering what R–rated film is playing in the adjacent auditorium.

Pirates Of The Caribbean: On Stranger Tides Directed by Rob Marshall in a spectacular free–fall that saw him go from the Oscar–winning Chicago to the indifferently received Memoirs of a Geisha to the thudding Nine to this round of sloppy seconds, On Stranger Tides is too long (even though it’s the shortest of the four Pirates movies!), too cluttered and too forgetful of the reason why we’re here in the first place. That would be to watch Johnny Depp cut loose in the role that turned his career supernova: Jack Sparrow, the fey pirate whose greatest skill remains looking out for himself. Depp still seems interested in the part, but scripters Ted Elliott and Terry Rossio let him down by frequently ignoring his character’s ability to surprise us with his go–for–broke insanity in order to mire him in an ofttimes dull quest to locate the Fountain of Youth. The teaming of Depp and Penelope Cruz (as a sexy swashbuckler) doesn’t quite produce the fireworks one expects (though it certainly beats The Tourist’s Depp–Jolie mismatch), while Ian McShane seems unable to muster much menace as the murderous Blackbeard. That leaves it up to Geoffrey Rush, once again playing the unsavory Barbossa, to elicit any of that old–time Pirates magic – his saucy scenes with Depp are arguably the movie’s best. CS

29 JUNE 15-JUNE 21, 2011 | WWW.CONNECTSAVANNAH.COM

The Hangover Part II

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