‘The Hangover 2’: Will it be one big Bangkok cliché?
Now that it's been confirmed that the highly anticipated sequel to Hollywood blockbuster “The Hangover” will be filmed at least partly in Thailand, we couldn't help wonder -- and cringe slightly thinking about -- how the Kingdom will be depicted.
Tigers, strippers, gambling and drugs. The first installment, set in Las Vegas, had all of these elements. But somehow we don’t imagine the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) had such things in mind when it started heavily promoting the country as a shooting location for Hollywood films.
"The Hangover" director Todd Phillips, for one, seems likely to play up the hyperboles, confirming in a recent interview that “there’s gonna be some f***-ed-up surprises.”
With Phillips’ words in mind, we predict the unlikely (Tourism Authority of Thailand-inspired) and likely (Hollywood-inspired) scenarios.
Showcasing Thailand's legendary hospitality
TAT-approved version: In the first film, the bachelor party group wakes up to a messy Caesars Palace hotel room containing a tiger and a crying baby -- and the groom missing. In the sequel, they meet at the buffet in a five-star Bangkok hotel where they enjoy carved fruits, fresh coffee and croissants served by stunningly attractive female hotel staff in silk uniforms.
Hollywood version: They wake up to discover a pangolin and ladyboy in bed with the groom -- and the bride missing.
World-class medical facilities
TAT-approved version: In part one, the character Stu pulled out his own tooth. Thailand is famous for its first-rate dental facilities and medical tourism. In the sequel, Stu receives successful reconstructive gum surgery and a tooth replacement followed by laser whitening. He is then shown showing off his pearly whites as he holds a mai tai while lounging by the sea.
Hollywood version: Stu’s stripper girlfriend, Roller Girl actress Heather Graham, impales a dart in Stu’s eye while trying to replicate a Patpong floor show.
Vegas wedding out, elephant wedding in
TAT-approved version: In the original film, the friends steal and later drug a pet tiger belonging to former heavyweight champion Mike Tyson. In the sequel, seeing the error of their ways and lamenting that the wild tiger population of Thailand has been decimated by deforestation and hunting, they visit the Tiger Temple in Kanchanaburi where an emotionally moved Tyson ordains as a monk to spend the rest of his life teaching tourists about the protection of wildlife.
Hollywood version: While riding an elephant down Soi Cowboy, the socially awkward, nearly autistic character Alan, who fits right in with farang life in Bangkok, locks eyes with a tiny bar girl named Lek, who speaks broken English but has a big heart. They are later engaged in a ceremony involving the same elephant as the ring bearer.
Chuwit makes a cameo, the wolfpack does a rooftop redux
Hollywood version: "The Hangover" featured an eccentric and erratic Chinese mafia figure named Leslie Chow, who was kidnapped and stuck in the trunk of a car before being released on the side of the road. "The Hangover 2" sees eccentric and erratic Thai “politician” and former massage parlor king Chuwit Kamolvisit kidnapped and pushed out the side of a car on the side of the highway.
TAT-approved version: At the end of the original film, groom Doug was found stranded and badly sunburned on the roof of Caesars Palace. Bangkok too has many sky-high dining and rooftop hotel hot spots. At the end of the sequel, Doug is seen on top of one of our swanky rooftop bars where the entire group gathers to enjoy the modern Bangkok cityscape.
Whatever scenarios play out, one only hopes that when "The Hangover 2" comes to screens here, Thailand will keep its own sense of humor -- no matter how unlikely, or likely, the surprises.