When I saw The Hangover in a theater a couple of years ago I just about pissed myself laughing. When I saw The Hangover Part II last night, I had fond memories of the first one. I can’t necessarily say this sequel is bad, because it’s essentially The Hangover Redux… but sadly, I can’t really say it’s that great.
Todd Phillips and the Wolfpack seemed to go out of their way to not touch what they believed to be perfectly winning formula… and that lack of freshness is evident throughout. There are a number of funny moments, but they tended to feel forced with the specter of “this seems very familiar” hanging over their heads. At a few points on screen they even say “I can’t believe this happened again”, and really… neither could I.
For their first debauched outing, the setting was Las Vegas. Classic bachelor party setting with some of the best over the top antics imaginable. Stealing Mike Tyson’s tiger and extracting your own tooth… brilliant! This time around Stu (Ed Helms) is getting married in Thailand because that is where his fiance’s parents live and he is craving the blessing from the stern father of the bride who at one point refers to Stu as bland white rice you feed to infants and old people. Doug (Justin Bartha) and Phil (Bradley Cooper) are having a nice breakfast a week before the wedding when Stu informs them that there will be no bachelor party, just the brunch they are sitting at. Phil rejects this idea out of hand, and Doug begins to press Stu to invite Alan (Zach Galifinakis).
After arriving in Thighland (as Alan calls it), Phil talks Stu, Doug, Alan and Stu’s fiance’s little brother Teddy (Mason Lee) into having one beer on the beach… sealed bottles and all. In a time passing montage over Bangkok… identical to the montage over Vegas… the Wolfpack (Stu, Phil and Alan) wake up in a horribly seedy hotel… where they find a smoking, drug dealer and scene stealing monkey, Stu has a Mike Tyson tattoo on his face and Teddy is missing… at least the majority of him is missing, his finger is still in the room. Cue… “I can’t believe this happened again!”
What happens next is exactly what you think (more or less). The locations are changed… the situations a bit more perilous… but overall, the same formula that made the first film the highest grossing R rated comedy ever, just Bangkok style. Which, I must say… I have never visited Bangkok, and after seeing this film, I don’t think I ever will. If it is half as grimy and fucked up as it is portrayed, count me out.
I did have some good laughs… to be sure. There are a couple of situations that push the envelope in a great direction… but overall, I found myself watching the film ticking off failed gag after failed gag. There was just too much, “Hmm… funnier the first time” to be as satisfying as I had hoped. I would love to see someone’s reaction to this if they have not seen the first. I imagine it may be substantially more entertaining. I couldn’t help but think of two Guy Ritchie movies, Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels and Snatch. I’ve always felt that people prefer one of those two based on which order they saw them in. I saw Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels before seeing Snatch, and because I consider them to be almost the same film, prefer Lock, Stock. Others I know who saw Snatch first tend to lean towards that film (probably because of Brad Pitt’s Pikey). A chicken and the egg problem really (although the egg had to come first… silly question).
For as funny as The Hangover is… this sequel can’t quite capture lightning in a bottle twice. Is it a fun movie? Absolutely. Would I recommend it over something like Bridesmaids? Nope. Is this an issue of sequelitis? Perhaps. Bottom line, if you want a few laughs, go for it… but if you are expecting something as hilarious as it’s predecessor, you will be disappointed. Sadly, I was the latter.
Cornelius J. Blahg