Zach Galifiankis, Bradley Cooper, Justin Bartha and Ed Helms return in The Hangover Part II
Stop me if you've heard this one. Three guys wake up one morning with no memory of the night before, but with some very strange clues scattered around the room. A member of their group is missing and they've got a wedding they need to get to. Sound familiar? It should, because it's the plot of not only The Hangover Part II, but also of the original Hangover. There are some differences. This time they wake up in Bangkok and this time the person that's missing isn't the groom, but the bride's younger brother.
Because of how similar the stories are, Part II feels more like a remake than a sequel. Clearly the filmmakers felt that they had a winning formula and decided not to mess with it, simply transplanting the story from Las Vegas to Bangkok. That's not to say that it isn't funny in parts, because it is. But it definitely lacks freshness and very much has a we've seen this before vibe to it.
Despite how close it adheres to the formula, there are still plenty of laughs. Zach Galifianakis once again steals the movie as Alan, the inappropriate, seemingly mentally challenged one, who, thankfully, remains tasteless and unrepentant throughout the film. Another scene-stealer is Ken Jeong, who returns as Chow. It is his illegal shenanigans that set most of the plot's more outrageous elements into motion.
Bradley Cooper, the cast member whose star has risen the most since the first film, plays the straightman and actually offers very little, at times almost seeming embarrassed to be back in the same film. Over-the-top zaniness is going on all around him, but he remains stone faced through most of it, only breaking into emotion when he gets shot.
As in the first movie, Stu (Ed Helms) has an incident with a prostitute that generates some of the movie's biggest laughs, particularly during the closing credits when the photographs of the night before are finally shown. It also leads to one of Alan's funniest lines near the very end of the film when the group is reunited at the wedding.
Although I laughed many times while watching it, I still look at this sequel as a missed opportunity. These characters are funny and likable enough and they're played by talented enough actors that they didn't need to limit themselves to the structure of the first movie. You could put them in other situations and they'd still be funny. I'm sure that The Hangover Part II will make money and inevitably there will be a Part III. I hope for that one they take a few more chances.
It happened again.
The recycled plot allows Part II to stand on its own. It isn’t necessary to have seen the first movie to enjoy this one. Although I agree with Scott that for the majority of people that have seen the original Hangover this cinematic fast-food will taste a little stale.
The one tiny difference in structure is that a bit more time is spent with the wedding party before the plot actually kicks in. It doesn’t help though. The Asian characters are all stereotypes; from the submissive, adoring fiancée (who shares absolutely no chemistry with Stu) to her stern, overly-protective father, to the academically successful, classical music playing younger brother of the bride.
The tension between Stu and his father-in-law to be isn’t particularly funny and it slows the story down. Once the wolfpack wakes up in that dingy, sordid hotel room in Bangkok the movie comes to life and the laughs begin to pile up. Ken Jeong’s Mr. Chow shows up at just the right time. “I’ll tell you bitches what happened as soon as I do this bump of blow!”
Their adventures this time around include a scene-stealing, cigarette-smoking monkey drug-dealer and an ass-kicking silent monk. The tattoo artist that gives Stu the Mike Tyson tribal tat on his face was supposed to be played by Mel Gibson but the other actors protested against hiring him. It’s a shame the cast couldn’t get past their politically correct attitudes because Gibson would have been a hoot in this cameo.
The Hangover Part II is funny and entertaining but unlike the first movie we know the formula this time around so that crispy freshness is missing. And it is less plausible than the first movie. The gruesome accident that befalls the bride’s younger brother is a life-changing event and it is pretty much laughed off by everyone.
Zach Galifianakis, the monkey and Ed Helms in The Hangover Part II
I enjoyed The Hangover Part II. Perhaps it was that my brothers set such low expectations. Perhaps it was because I saw it with my seventeen year old son. Either way, I laughed and was entertained. Granted, it does not have the same sense of male bonding over a weekend of stress relief, as the first one did. Sure Scott, it is more of a remake than a sequel, but it still works.
Cooper does walk through his performance. The role itself is more charismatic than he is. You're right Patrick, Stu's intended is far too good looking for him. Zach Galifianakis almost comes across as annoying but he ends up stealing many scenes. My absolute favorite line is when he finally loses it, "They shot the monkey! I am at my wits end."
In The Hangover, four men set out to have a memorable night. They all look forward to it, but they forgot the old adage of be careful for what you wish for. In The Hangover Part II they merely intend to have a few beers at the beach. They end up having a drug induced night in which someone gets a facial tattoo, someone gets shot, someone loses a digit, someone gets lost, and someone gets fucked in the ass. Not to mention all the issues with drug dealers. Thus the big difference is that in the first movie the guys reap what they sow, while in part II they are merely innocent victims. It is in some ways a minor quibble, but it makes this one a lesser film.
Photos © Copyright Warner Bros. (2011)