‘Hangover II’ still hilarious, even with predictable plot
The gossip circulating the movie review blogosphere basically screams “The Hangover Part II” is a carbon copy of its smash-hit predecessor, “The Hangover.” In all honesty, that’s a bit of an overstatement, but not by much. While the infamous Wolfpack is traversing both the stunningly lush scenery and the gritty underground of Thailand instead of the glittering and glamourous Vegas and the boys lose the bride’s brother rather than the groom, it wouldn’t be uncalled for to decry director Todd Phillips and his writers for rehashing (and therefore diminishing) the 2009 plot line, strippers and drugs included.
The Phillips-directed sequel (he also directed the first movie) takes place several years after the Vegas “incident,” this time with Stu (Ed Helms, “Ceder Rapids”) being the groom on deck. There’s a difference, though: His fiancée’s (Jamie Chung, “Dragon Ball: Evolution”) parents want the wedding in Thailand. Her father, Fohn (Nirut Sirichanya) thinks Stu is a pansy and harasses me mercilessly. But his prodigy son, Teddy (Mason Lee) is apparently a Godsend. And of course, as the laws of sequels dictate, Teddy has to join the Wolfpack. That doesn’t sit well with Alan (Zack Galifianakis, “The Hangover”), who feels threatened and overprotective of his best friends. So, while at a bonfire with Phil (Bradley Cooper, “Limitless”), Doug (Justin Bartha, “National Treasure”), Stu and Teddy, he introduces some drug-laced marshmallows to the situation.
Cue the time-lapsed cutaway, and we find Phil, Stu and Alan bloodied and bruised in the depths of Bangkok squaller, without any memory of the preceding night. And as in the original, someone (in this case, Teddy) has gone missing. And so we’ve come full-circle, with the boys frantically navigating the dangerous streets of Bangkok in search of the 16-year-old.
As they search, all hell breaks loose, including running into an angry crime boss (Paul Giamatti, “Sideways”), a gun-toting Russian mob, a Mike Tyson-inspired facial tattoo, a tranny hooker, a finger without a person attached to it and a drug-dealing monkey who has a penchant for masturbation. Oh, and Mr. Chow … Leslie Chow (Ken Jeong, “The Hangover”) … shows up as Alan’s plus-one, blow and criminal record in tow.
With so much going on, it’s not surprising that the performances of Cooper, Helms and Galifianakis come across as underwhelming. Cooper, after nailing the party boy role in the first movie, does nothing more than stand around and look pretty this time. Helms’ character, however, goes through some cringe-inducing misery in this version (not that pulling out his own tooth and marrying a table dancer aren’t misery incarnate), and it seems the torment falls unfairly on him.
Galifianakis, though, is still gut-wrenchingly funny. He provides the center in “Part II,” being both idiotic and touching in equal measures and again stealing the show. Still, it’s not enough to add anything fresh, and isn’t that the point of a sequel?
That’s not to say the sequel isn’t incredibly hilarious and just as debauched as the original (even more so in certain situations), but the beauty of the “The Hangover” was how original it was. It took the premise of a Vegas bachelor party and applied Murphy’s Law to it. It was unabashedly raunchy and debased, vulgar without once being apologetic, giving the middle finger to political correctness. It was, in short, amazing. However, the sequel merely took that concept and applied it to international waters.
If viewed alone and in its entirety, “Part II” would be a comedy gold mine. But that’s neither realistic nor fair. “The Hangover” came first, and it will be the reason why “Part II” will do so well at the box office.
So, while smoking cigarettes with a drug-dealing monkey would leave you with an interesting story to tell at the reception, “The Hangover Part II,” with all of its insanity and high-octane action, leaves you feeling as if you’d seen this movie before, and just a bit disappointed. But no worries: The credits more than make up for it.
Two not-as-good-as-the-first stars out of five.