The Hangover Part II is more of a remake than a sequel, and the more you think about it the sadder that thought gets. The glass half-full people will say, “well, even a lackluster sequel to The Hangover will be better than just about any other comedy this year.” They’re right. Glass half-empties will say, “this is more of a remake than a sequel, and they took the easy way out.” They’re also right. If you still have people over to watch the original, you will have neither of these thoughts. You’ll be too busy laughing. Regardless, this is a beat-for-beat retread of the original that still offers plenty of laughs – just not at the thunderous pace of the first one and not in nearly as clever of fashion.
A synopsis almost seems extraneous, but here we go. It’s now two years after the events in Las Vegas, and Stu (Helms) is engaged to the beautiful Lauren (Jamie Chung). Per her strict family’s guidelines, the two are getting married in Thailand. Stu has already invited pals Phil (Cooper) and Doug (Bartha), and he reluctantly ends up inviting the culturally-defunct Alan (Galifianakis). Once the guys are finally alone, they agree to have one beer on the beach and then call it a night. Then it happens again. They wake up in a ramshackle Bangkok hotel and must piece together the events of the previous night so that Stu can get married.
Whereas the original had the wonderful epiphany of watching a comedy that actually didn’t suck, The Hangover Part II sticks strictly to its own formula – and to a fault. Instead of losing a tooth, Stu gets a face tattoo. Alan winds up with a shaved head. Instead of singing a song on the piano, Stu grabs the acoustic guitar. Mike Tyson shows up. Efforts are made to take the humor to more extreme levels, particularly in a scene in which Stu realizes what happened at a Bangkok strip club the night before. There is a darker overall tone at work, but the story arc is so familiar that there aren’t many surprises to be had.
A subplot involving a drug-dealing monkey and international criminal Mr. Chow (Jeong, never afraid of full frontal himself) being in debt to crime lord Kingsley (Giamatti) never really materializes. The screenplay just seems to trot Chow out whenever they’ve run out of things for the three guys to do, and then he can supply the next plot point. Bartha is left with really nothing to do except field phone calls at the resort.
As much as this is a retread and has an air of laziness, there are still more than a handful of funny scenes that will keep fans involved. As with the first film, Galifianakis continues his breakout and gets most of the best lines. It would definitely be a much more boring adventure without Alan. The film is an obvious recommendation for the diehards out there, but I doubt director Todd Phillips and company can get away with making the same film a third time. Come on guys, the original was one of the funniest movies of the last decade. Unleash those creative juices when The Hangover Part III inevitably gets the green light.
Studio: Warner Bros. Pictures
Length: 102 Minutes
Rating: R for for pervasive language, strong sexual content including graphic nudity, drug use and brief violent images.
Theatrical Release: May 26, 2011
Directed by: Todd Phillips
Written by: Craig Mazin & Scot Armstrong & Todd Phillips.
Cast: Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms, Zach Galifianakis, Justin Bartha, Ken Jeong