I never quite saw the lightning the first time around, but who could miss the rumbling thunder? The Hangover storm raged over the summer of 2009, becoming the highest-grossing live-action comedy of all time, and later winning a Best Picture (Musical or Comedy) Golden Globe. A sequel was apparently in the works before the first film was even released. Unfortunately, as we all know too well, lightning rarely strikes twice.
If a motion picture dictionary were to define the term ‘sequelitis,’ The Hangover Part II would be pictured alongside it. And that’s the least of the film’s problems. Perhaps I’m predisposed to loathe this sequel, and I will openly admit to that. While watching Part II, I remembered sitting in a History of Comedy class two years ago and the professor asked the students to list the five greatest comedies in film or television of all time. To my astonishment and complete disagreement, The Hangover swept the votes with nearly ¾ of the students naming it the funniest movie ever made. Say what?
Obviously I missed the boat. In my humble opinion, for every joke that the original Hangover hit spot-on, there was about ten that flopped. Audiences not digging Part I will certainly not have a change of heart with Part II. In fact, even if you enjoyed Part I, you will likely find yourself less satisfied this time out. The blueprint for this Hangover is nearly identical to the last. Expecting as much, I still found the movie to be a disappointment as a (keyword: funny) comedy.
Stu (Ed Helms) is getting married in Bangkok to his beautiful young bride, Lauren (Jamie Chung). The entire wedding party and guests are being flown out to a resort in Thailand, including Phil (Bradley Cooper), Doug (Justin Bartha), and—regrettably for Stu—Alan (Zach Galifianakis). Phil convinces Stu to have one beer with the guys at a bonfire on the beach. One beer and some marshmallows later, fade to black. Phil, Stu, and Alan wake up in a dump hotel somewhere in Bangkok feeling foggy, looking disheveled, and presumably clueless. Alan’s head is bald. Stu has a Mike Tyson tattoo on his face. And a monkey is loose in the room.
What’s worse? A severed finger revealed to belong to Lauren’s sixteen-year-old little brother Teddy (Mason Lee) has emerged. The guys have no idea what happened, and Teddy is nowhere to be found. It has happened again. Panicked and desperate, the Wolfpack runs wild through the streets of Bangkok piecing together the previous evening’s wild events in order to find their young missing companion.
So… instead of Vegas we have Bangkok. A missing tooth is now a tattoo on the face. A tiger in the hotel has changed to a drug-dealing monkey. The baby has been replaced a by a silent monk in a wheelchair. Missing Doug is now missing Teddy. Stu’s female prostitute in Vegas has been exchanged for a transsexual prostitute. An annoying Asian mobster leaping out of the trunk of a car is now an annoying Asian mobster leaping out of a freezer. Sorry to spoil some of the events, but being that you’ve seen the first Hangover, you won’t be surprised by much of anything happening this time around. Hangover Part II simply does everything the first film does while lowering the bar on all counts. This one is darker and more twisted with absolutely nothing new to offer audiences. Shock has completely dominated over surprise this time, and for that very reason I found the film to be a near-total disaster.
That being said, keep in mind the 2009 original did little for me. While I did find a few good laughs, overall I wasn’t a fan. Sticking close to what worked before, the three principal characters remain. The writers don’t even let Bartha’s character in on the mayhem again this time around—and he’s not even the missing friend. He soberly awaits the return of his friends back at the resort. At least his addition could have given viewers a change of pace. Since no character other than Alan is humorous, which is again the case, the film relies on outrageous situational comedy. Unfortunately once again, most of the situations are violent and off-putting rather than clever and funny. Or maybe I just have no love for these characters and what they can never remember.
For those with Hangover love, Hangover II will probably be another winner even if you don’t find it as funny as the first (which I can almost guarantee). No one involved in the sequel likely had the mindset they were topping the first picture. I’m sure tears of dollars signs were running down their joy-filled faces as they signed the dotted line for another greenlight. The script is plagued with flat-lined jokes that continued to fall well below the least common denominator while remaining tightly within the formula of Part I. If only the film would’ve been released in 3D… That way Alan could have leapt out of the screen and given me one of those marshmallows. Then I could wake up tomorrow morning without the slightest clue that I saw The Hangover Part II. Oh wait… who am I kidding? That would be straying too much from formula.
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