16 February 2019 | CANpatbuck3664
An Impressive Sequel, Magnificent Work From Landon, Rothe and the Crew
Happy Death Day wasn't my favourite movie from 2017 but it was in my top 10 and it qualified as the biggest surprise of that year for me. It was a solid slasher movie with a lot of funny material and a unique take on the time loop concept. The trailers for Happy Death Day 2U didn't deter me from seeing it but it looked like they could be repeating the successful formula from the first one. What may be the most surprising part of Happy Death Day 2U is the fact that other than providing a recap of the first movie, so little of it is recycled. This isn't a horror movie, its a science fiction/comedy mashup with horror and romance elements thrown in. It not only works but it works so well that it rivals the first one in execution for me. They broaden the scope of the movie and it switches genres. I can't think of another sequel (I'm sure there has been somewhere, I just can't think of one off the top of my head) that boldly chooses to go in a completely different direction. It not only makes that choice but it succeeds at it completely. The best part is that 2U is that while it is inventive, it retains a lot of what worked previously. The sense of humour carries over and there's more than enough funny material to go around. I laughed a lot throughout it was key that they kept things light to keep the pace up.
The movie choosing to change things up was the biggest surprise but the wonderful development of the characters was just as impressive. Tree's development into being a better person was a highlight of the original Happy Death Day, it added an interesting dynamic to the story. Tree continues to grow (no pun intended) and I have to hand it to writer/director Christopher Landon for developing the characters further with new aspects without just repeating the same arc. With Tree facing the same scenario but with many changes, the characters are the same yet completely different and it keeps things intriguing. While 2U was funny there were also some emotional moments that were very heartfelt. I liked how the original included the evolution of Tree's relationship with her dad, they double down on that in this one with the surprise inclusion of someone from Tree's past. The genuine joy that comes out of that realization for Tree and the pain that it causes later had a lot of pathos that you wouldn't expect from this type of movie
Jessica Rothe's second performance as Tree is a fantastic work. 2U requires so much varied work from her doing physical comedy to involving drama and she pulls it off handily. She's outstanding here and I really hope she's on her way to bigger things because this is a great follow up performance. Almost the entire supporting cast returns and they all perform capably. Rothe and Israel Broussard still have a lot of chemistry as Tree and Carter, and their relationship has some sweet moments scattered throughout. I liked that they gave both Rachel Matthews and Ruby Modine different things to do as Danielle and Lori. They both were fun to watch. I also thought Phi Vu was better utilized in this movie as Ryan, it was cool that they took a minor character from the first one and expanded on his part. Vu's performance helped make that a solid choice.
I'm sure plenty of people will be complaining about the genre shift and tonal change from the first entry in this potential franchise and while I did have to adjust but it didn't bother me. I only had a few complaints when it comes to this movie. Just like the first one, they border on having too many twists when they're wrapping up. I liked all of them but the movie wants to bring a lot of new elements in at the end and the final 15 minutes feels a little overstuffed. They also jam some of the more juvenile bits of humour in the very beginning and the very end of the movie that can feel a little out of place tonally.
I was a huge fan of the first Happy Death Day and if you made me pick I still think the first one is a better stand alone film. But Happy Death Day 2U is wildly creative, the script is really sharp and Jessica Rothe proves how wonderfully versatile she is in another great lead performance. People always complain about sequels just being carbon copies of the original or that the plot is recycled or how originality in movies is dead. I was blown away by how Landon and his team were unafraid to blaze a different path with the continuation of this potential franchise and give the audience something fresh to chew on. If you're stuck on having another slasher movie, this might not be your cup of tea but I can't recommend this highly enough. If you enjoyed the first one and can keep an open mind, go see Happy Death Day 2U.