Friday Flicks: Is ‘The Hangover II’ Worth Raising a Drink To?

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Grab some popcorn! NewsFeed’s Glen Levy brings you the movies you should check out (or avoid) this weekend.

The Hangover II

Tagline: The Wolfpack Is Back

It’s a little known fact but the nobody-saw-this-coming success of The Hangover was in no small part down to it testing off the charts with women. You can have all the tigers, gross-out gags and Mike Tyson that you want, but without the approval of both sexes, you ain’t gonna gross (in the box office sense) nearly half a billion dollars.

Of course, this spectacular performance simply demanded a sequel and all the protagonists — Ed Helms (Stu), Zach Galifianakis (Alan), Bradley Cooper (Phil), Justin Bartha (Doug) and Ken Jeong (Mr. Chow) — are back, as is director Todd Phillips. The original’s location of Las Vegas has been swapped for Thailand as the setting for Stu’s wedding. But instead of a calm, controlled affair, the brother (Mason Lee) of Stu’s fiancée goes AWOL, which is the only McGuffin a movie such as this ever needs.

The expectation levels are certainly high, as borne out by the anecdotes that leaked out during filming. Word was that Mel Gibson was going to do a cameo as the tattoo artist but, after reported complaints from cast and crew, he was replaced by Liam Neeson, who himself was cut due to a scheduling conflict during reshoots (he was replaced by Nick Cassavetes).  But all the audience will want to know is whether the movie will make them laugh: it will but probably not to the tune of half a billion dollars.

(MORE: A brief history of bro culture)

Kung Fu Panda 2

Tagline: Prepare For The Year Of Awesomeness

Poor Dreamworks, they never seem to be able to catch a break. Who remembers the Oscars a couple of years ago? The man who lends his voice to Kung Fu Panda‘s Master Po, Jack Black, told the watching world just before the gong was handed out for Best Animation that, “Each year I do one Dreamworks project, then I take the money to the Oscars and bet it on Pixar.” The envelope was duly opened, revealing Pixar’s Wall-E had beaten Black’s Kung Fu Panda. Nobody, Black included, knew whether to laugh or cry.

And in a nutshell, there’s your problem with Kung Fu Panda. Even if you’ve never had a piece of candy before, when you bite into celery, you know there’s something better out there. And so it goes with this sequel: much like the original, you can’t help but wonder when the next slice of Pixar genius is being released. But give Kung Fu Panda 2 this: it’s got one hell of a cast (Angelina Jolie, Jackie Chan, Dustin Hoffman, Lucy Liu, Seth Rogen, Gary Oldman and even Jean-Claude Van Damme). The plot involves a weapon, world domination and Po’s back story which will explain once and for all how a panda has a goose for a father (it was so nearly James Bond until then, right?)

(REVIEW: See what TIME thought of the original Kung Fu Panda)

NewsFeed’s Flicks Pick: In sequel week, we turn to The Hangover rather than a panda. Sorry, Jack Black.

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