The Hangover Part II, Todd Phillips, 102 mins, 15
Heartbeats, Xavier Dolan, 100 mins, 15
Life, Above All, Oliver Schmitz, 105 mins, 12A

What's the last thing you need the morning after the night before? The hair of the dog...

Halfway through The Hangover Part II, one character wails: "I can't believe this is happening again!" I know how he feels.

The use of "Part II" in the title might imply that it's the second chapter of a continuing story, but in reality it's a scene-by-scene remake of 2009's hit comedy. Again, it's got the cocky Bradley Cooper, the buttoned-up Ed Helms, and the not-all-there Zach Galifianakis going on a stag night with a fourth friend. Again, it has them waking up with no memory of the previous 12 hours, and no idea where that fourth friend has gone. And again, they're on a Chandleresque odyssey around an unfamiliar city where they swear a lot, get hit in the face, and try to piece together what happened.

The only difference is that The Hangover Part II is set in Bangkok, which is represented as one of the less salubrious Circles of Hell. It's a change for the better. The first film was set in Las Vegas, the home of slot machines and Celine Dion concerts, so it hardly took the heroes out of their comfort zone. This time, their ordeal is so grim that the film threatens to stop being a comedy and become a dark thriller with a few genitalia jokes thrown in.

What it is of course is a blatant cash-in, but in some ways, The Hangover Part II is an exemplary sequel, in that it gives fans exactly what they enjoyed two years ago, but with a bigger budget. And it does have its funny moments, with enough left-field non sequiturs from Galifianakis and Ken Jeong to stop it being too predictable. It's only the insufferable, self-congratulatory finale that makes you pray that there won't be a Part III. Please, let The Hangover be over.

Heartbeats is the second film to be written and directed by Xavier Dolan, a 22-year-old French-Canadian. And if that weren't terrifying enough, Dolan is also one of the three stars, playing a gay man who falls madly in lust with the same tousled Adonis as his straight female best friend. Both of these friends are too self-conscious to admit how they feel, so they embark on stealth campaigns to impress the obscure object of their desire, while maintaining the pretence that they're as close and supportive as ever.

It's a piquant, low-budget comedy about under-employed twentysomethings, the kind of thing which is usually shot using horribly cheap video cameras, but Dolan and his team have made it look luxuriantly attractive: Heartbeats would be half an hour shorter if it weren't for all the slow-motion sequences of beautiful people sashaying to the strains of a Bach cello concerto. The perfume-ad aesthetic will put some viewers off, but the pretension is balanced by sharp, spare dialogue, and tenderly drawn, recognisable characters. Who knows what Dolan will be capable of when he's 23?

Life, Above All is a film about today's Africa, but it echoes John Steinbeck and Harper Lee in its depiction of rural hardship, small-town prejudice and lion-hearted courage. In a tremendously assured debut, Khomotso Manyaka stars as a village schoolgirl who fights to keep her family afloat following the death of her baby sister. Her stepfather is a drunk who spends the family's money on prostitutes, and her mother's health is deteriorating, but no one wants to put two and two together: the village is ruled so forcibly by rumour and superstition that its residents would rather waste away in private than go to hospital for an HIV/Aids test. It's a powerful, handsomely shot drama, but it feels as if the film-makers are listing a continent's problems rather than telling an individual's story.

Next Week:

Nicholas Barber sees what Keira Knightley and Sam Worthington got up to Last Night

Also Showing: 29/05/2011

Diary of a Wimpy Kid 2: Rodrick Rules (100 mins, U)

For what it's worth, this is a marked improvement on last year's Diary of a Wimpy Kid, which had such an unsympathetic hero it should have been called "Diary of an Obnoxious Brat". In the sequel, the Walter Mitty-ish narrator (Zachary Gordon, pictured) gets to be genuinely wimpy rather than cruel and self-centred, and there are enough knowing jokes about family life to keep accompanying grown-ups amused. If someone decides to make a third Wimpy Kid film, though, it would be nice if this time it had a plot, and not just a series of unrelated episodes glued together.

Angels of Evil (128 mins, 15)

Like 2009's Mesrine films, Angels Of Evil is a Seventies-set biopic of a European bank robber, Italy's Renato Vallanzasca (Kim Rossi Stuart). It's a brisk catalogue of shoot-outs and car chases, big sideburns and wide lapels, but it never pauses to establish why we should care about such an unstable thug, who has a habit of botching heists and shooting civilians. He's more evil than angelic.

Apocalypse Now (153 mins, 15)

Another opportunity to see Francis Ford Coppola's 1979 Vietnam epic on the big screen, and marvel at a golden age when war films had real helicopters and real crowds in them, not just CGI replicas.

Suggested Topics
Arts and Entertainment
The Doctor and Clara have their first real heart to heart since he regenerated in 'Deep Breath'
TV
Arts and Entertainment
Jamie Oliver
filmTV chef Jamie Oliver turned down role in The Hobbit
News
The official police photograph of Dustin Diamond taken after he was arrested in Wisconsin
TVDownfall of the TV star charged with bar stabbing
Arts and Entertainment
Clueless? Locked-door mysteries are the ultimate manifestation of the cerebral detective story
booksAs a new collection of the genre’s best is published, its editor explains the rules of engagement
Arts and Entertainment
Tracy Emin's 1998 piece 'My Bed' on display at Christie's
artOne expert claims she did not
PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
J Jefferson Farjeon at home in 1953
booksBooksellers say readers are turning away from modern thrillers and back to golden age of crime writing
Arts and Entertainment
Female fans want more explicit male sex in Game of Thrones, George R R Martin says

film George RR Martin owns a cinema in Santa Fe

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
Clued up: John Lynch and Gillian Anderson in ‘The Fall’

TV review

Arts and Entertainment
The Baker (James Corden) struggles with Lilla Crawford’s Little Red Riding Hood

film...all the better to bamboozle us
Arts and Entertainment
English: Romantic Landscape

art
Arts and Entertainment
Laugh a minute: Steph Parker with Nigel Farage

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Comic Ivor Dembina has staged his ‘Traditional Jewish Xmas Eve Show’ for the past 20 years; the JNF UK charity is linked to the Jewish National Fund, set up to fund Jewish people buying land in Palestinian territories
comedy

Arts and Entertainment
Transformers: Age of Extinction was the most searched for movie in the UK in 2014

film
Arts and Entertainment
Mark Ronson has had two UK number two singles but never a number one...yet

music
Arts and Entertainment
Clara Amfo will take over from Jameela Jamil on 25 January

radio
Arts and Entertainment
This is New England: Ken Cheeseman, Ann Dowd, Frances McDormand and Richard Jenkins in Olive Kitteridge

The most magnificently miserable show on television in a long timeTV
Arts and Entertainment
Andrea Faustini looks triumphant after hearing he has not made it through to Sunday's live final

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Rhys says: 'I'm not playing it for laughs, but I have learnt that if you fall over on stage, people can enjoy that as much as an amazing guitar solo'
musicGruff Rhys on his rock odyssey, and the trouble with independence
Arts and Entertainment
Krysia and Daniel (Hand out press photograph provided by Sally Richardson)
How do today's composers answer the challenge of the classical giant?
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    A timely reminder of the bloody anniversary we all forgot

    A timely reminder of the bloody anniversary we all forgot

    Who remembers that this week we enter the 150th anniversary year of the end of the American Civil War, asks Robert Fisk
    Homeless Veterans appeal: Former soldiers pay their respects to a friend who also served

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    Former soldiers pay their respects to a friend who also served
    Downfall of Dustin 'Screech' Diamond, the 'Saved By The Bell' star charged with bar stabbing

    Scarred by the bell

    The downfall of the TV star charged with bar stabbing
    Why 2014 was a year of technological let-downs

    Why 2014 was a year of technological let-downs

    Security breaches and overhyped start-ups dominated a year in which very little changed (save the size of your phone)
    Cuba's golf revolution: But will the revolutionary nation take 'bourgeois' game to its heart?

    Will revolutionary Cuba take 'bourgeois' golf to its heart?

    Fidel Castro ridiculed the game – but now investment in leisure resort projects is welcome
    The Locked Room Mysteries: As a new collection of the genre’s best is published, its editor Otto Penzler explains the rules of engagement

    The Locked Room Mysteries

    As a new collection of the genre’s best is published, its editor explains the rules of engagement
    Amy Adams on playing painter Margaret Keane in Tim Burton's Big Eyes

    How I made myself Keane

    Amy Adams hadn’t wanted to take the role of artist Margaret Keane, because she’d had enough of playing victims. But then she had a daughter, and saw the painter in a new light
    Ed Richards: Parting view of Ofcom chief. . . we hate jokes on the disabled

    Parting view of Ofcom chief... we hate jokes on the disabled

    Bad language once got TV viewers irate, inciting calls to broadcasting switchboards. But now there is a worse offender, says retiring head of the media watchdog, Ed Richards
    A look back at fashion in 2014: Wear in review

    Wear in review

    A look back at fashion in 2014
    Ian Herbert: My 10 hopes for sport in 2015. Might just one of them happen?

    Ian Herbert: My 10 hopes for sport in 2015

    Might just one of them happen?
    War with Isis: The West needs more than a White Knight

    The West needs more than a White Knight

    Despite billions spent on weapons, the US has not been able to counter Isis's gruesome tactics, says Patrick Cockburn
    Return to Helmand: Private Davey Graham recalls the day he was shot by the Taliban

    'The day I was shot by the Taliban'

    Private Davey Graham was shot five times during an ambush in 2007 - it was the first, controversial photograph to show the dangers our soldiers faced in Helmand province
    Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

    Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

    Many flyers are failing to claim compensation to which they are entitled, a new survey has found
    The stories that defined 2014: From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions

    The stories that defined 2014

    From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions
    Stoke-on-Trent becomes first British city to be classified as 'disaster resilient' by the United Nations

    Disaster looming? Now you know where to head...

    Which British city has become the first to be awarded special 'resilience' status by the UN?