Saturday, May 28, 2011

Battle Memorial Day Sequel Weekend: Kung Fu Panda 2 vs. The Hangover Part II


In this review I'm going to do things a little differently. Instead of doing 2 separate reviews for the 2 sequels, I'm going to compare and contrast them, saying what film did the sequel-thing right and which one did it horribly wrong.
Three summers ago I was going into college. I had this fantastic new job at the Hill Country Galleria Cinemark and I loved everyone I was working with. And Kung Fu Panda had come out. Now up against the year's best animated picture (Wall-e), Kung Fu Panda was just not as fantastical. However, after rewatching it again (on bluray of course) I realized that the movie actualy was pretty fantastic in its own way. The movie is gorgeously animated and all the jokes are super clever. It's funny, it's beautiful, and the story pans out marvelously. I laughed throughout the film again. It was hilarious.
Now, two summers ago one of my favorite recent comedies came out in theaters. I went to see The Hangover twice, which is something I rarely ever do for a comedy (I'm more of a repeat action-blockbuster kind of girl). It was unexpected, unpredictable, and totally hilarious. The Hangover is simply a fantastic raunchy comedy that I love. Like Kung Fu Panda, it too was hilarious.
This past holiday weekend both these films sequels hit theaters. The Hangover Part II swooped in and almost doubled the original's weekend gross with $86.5 million. That's a whole lot of people who decided to go out and see said raunchy R-rated comedy sequel. On my last day at the theater, all of our showings for The Hangover Part II sold out completely after 6pm. It's safe to say it did really really well. Kung Fu Panda 2, however, did not do so well. Coming in with a total of $48 million, the film's predecessor pulled in $60 million on a non-holiday weekend 3 years ago. I guess this wasn't the weekend for a children's movie after all (probably because all the parents were out seeing the R-rated movie).
It's obvious what film did much better money-wise this weekend, but which one was better overall? I of course saw them both, being I was very excited for the 2 films this summer. I must say, as much as I understand the box office results, I do not agree with them.
The Hangover Part II was a horrible film. Not only did it pretty much just cut-and-paste the first film's formula, making it completely predictable (something that the first film was so good at evading), but the jokes just weren't funny. Director Todd Phillips must just be laughing behind his desk in Hollywood right now, pointing his giant finger at us all for paying for this movie. I felt like the movie also didn't take advantage of all the funny jokes it could have. Being a fish out of water in any country is always a funny scenario, but this film took that and stomped on it. The movie had this super serious tone to all its humor and it felt to me that there's something about Thailand that maybe Mr. Phillips doesn't like. Every time a person near me would laugh, I would look over at them and think "How is someone getting shot funny? That's not funny, this is serious." The film got people to laugh at parts that, if they were in another film, people would not be laughing at ever. Also the total lax attitude about the [spoiler alert] chopped off finger was ridiculous. I would never be so nonchalant about my finger getting chopped off if I wanted to be a surgeon. Say goodbye to your future. [/spoiler]. I usually don't get the feeling to walk out of a film, but with this movie I almost did. The only reason I didn't was because my boyfriend had gone with me and I didn't want to bother him. However, after the movie it came to my attention he too wanted to walk out. If I had paid for this movie, I would have probably asked for my money back. It was terrible.
There was a glimmer of hope this weekend though and families didn't take enough advantage of it. While The Hangover Part II was the example of what you shouldn't do while making a sequel, Kung Fu Panda 2 was everything you do when you want to make a sequel right. The film was just spot-on. Instead of creating a movie that is step-by-step the original, it expanded on the first and moved forward, repeating some jokes from the first, but most of all creating more character development. In the first film, Po learns to accept himself for who he is. What Po discovers in this film is to accept his past and to focus on the present, to become at peace with himself. The villain was also fab. Gary Oldman's voice was so prefect for the peacock, I loved it. The film had a completely new story arc and I fell for it. I adored Kung Fu Panda 2 almost as much as I loved the first, and it just proves that sometimes that children's movies can be the better film. Just because you're over the age of 17 does not mean you can't watch a really solid and good animated film. They may sometimes be better than the raunchy R-rated movie.

At last! I shall give you my ratings (with my ratings of the first films as well).
The Hangover Part II: 1.5/5 (The Hangover: 4/5)
Kung Fu Panda 2: 3.5/5 (Kung Fu Panda: 4/5)

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