Review: The Hangover Part II

Any part-time binge drinker knows that when you end up with a hangover the next day, no matter how much fun you had the night before, you’re not going to be dumb enough to mix the same lethal cocktails ever again. “The Hangover Part II” would not be one of those hangovers you brag about the next day. Using the same ingredients with limited “X” factors, “The Hangover Part II” stirs up a familiar and predictable drink. Despite the familiar and comfy cast of characters, what once got America punch-drunk in 2009 will leave very few buzzed the second time around.

One can sense a tangible fear of deviating from the formula that brought moviegoers out in droves two summers ago in Todd Phillips follow-up effort. The events that unfold in Bangkok do so with minimal procession and perfunctory malaise, just as you expect them to, building to nothing but the next clue as to what happened the night before.

If only the night before were worth uncovering clues about. Visits to a monastery, tattoo parlor and a Thai strip club lay in store as the Wolfpack of Phil (Cooper), Stu (Helms) and Alan (Galifianakis) try and find out how they got drugged and lost Teddy, a 16-year-old who happens to be the brother of Stu’s bride-to-be and child prodigy of his disapproving father-in-law. Despite antics from a drug-trafficking monkey, the return of Ken Jeong’s crass and effeminate Mr. Chow and a barrage of inappropriate inserts from Alan, the laughs are few and far between, with some of the best already having been revealed by the trailers.

Normally, comedy sequels’ undoing comes from such painstaking desperation to top the antics of the original that the follow-ups come across as blunt and hollow despite the laughs. “The Hangover Part II” plays it the opposite, hoping that by virtue of playing it safe that the lovable characters of the original will win out. In a story following such a rigid formula, however, new elements need to come from left field or the act gets stale quickly. It will not take long into the run time for “Part II” to feel uninspired. Even the character interaction and subplots remain identical to the first: Alan still seeks approval from the others, Stu still freaks out at every new bit of info learned and Phil tries to play it cool. Everything about the sequel feels like retreaded material with an Eastern flair. Redressing a formula can work, but not in a comedy whose predecessor relied so heavily on the element of surprise.

The lack of laughs provided for in the writing pins a lot of that responsibility on Galifianakis. Although Alan remains the best of the several characters he’s played in the two years since being shot to fame by the original, he takes on the role of comic relief (along with a bit of help from Jeong). He has a 50-50 success rate, but he’s kind of left out to dry because Phil and Stu simply aren’t funny in this movie.

Laughs aside, however, the real killer proves to be the predictability. Phillips gives you at least a 10 second window to figure out what’s coming next in almost every key scene. He’s almost lazy in trying to conceal the script’s few good cards and it weakens the laughs. Also, considering no characters except one have motive, figuring out how they got drugged again a second time takes little to no detective work. That reveal adds no emotional turmoil to the process. Devoid of any substance or creative thinking, the film come across as what it appears on the surface: an attempt to capitalize on the financial success of the original.

1.5/5 Stars

The Hangover Part II
Directed by Todd Phillips
Written by Craig Mazin, Scot Armstrong and Todd Phillips
Starring: Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms, Zach Galifianakis, Justin Bartha, Ken Jeong


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