Notable Cast: Bradley Cooper, Zach Galifianakis, Ed Helms, Justin Bartha, Ken Jeong, Paul Giamatti, Jaime Chung
“The Hangover: Part II is gonna be exactly like the original, so why would I want to see it again,” says the viewer trying to go against the grain and seem edgy. I really got sick of hearing all the haters bitch and moan that Phillips seemed to copy the exact same formula from his blockbuster comedy hit The Hangover and cash it in for a sequel. To those people I would always ask, “well did you like The Hangover?” Of course I would get a resounding, “Hell yeah, that movie was hilarious,” posing the question: If The Hangover was a universal success, than why wouldn’t a sequel of the same copy and pasted nature be just as funny? “But it’s going to be The Hangover all over again just in a different place and with different crazy interactions!” Yeah, I know, which is why I never bought into all the hate. I’d be the first one to bash a film for a lack of originality or omission of integrity, but for what The Hangover was, I didn’t want Phillips to change a thing for once. But, in order to be a success, Part II would have to build upon the already created hit. The Hangover was honestly a sleeper hit, never expected to hit the gross numbers it eventually accomplished, but it was also an all around fantastic Phillips comedy (Road Trip/Old School). The whole “playing detective to remember the night of your life” is something out of every guy’s idiotic dream, and the characters were all lovable and moronic. I had all the trust in the world that if Phillips wanted to do another Hangover, it couldn’t NOT be funny; leaving be the argument the sequel would be equally as good.
We knew the wolf pack would meet again. This time it’s Stu’s (Helms) turn to take the plunge, but he’s got to go to Thailand in order to appease his new wife’s traditional family. Wanting to avoid another Vegas type fiasco, Stu begs Phil (Cooper) and Doug (Bartha) to forgo the bachelor party, much to Phil’s displeasure. But to Stu’s displeasure, Alan (Galifianakis) catches wind of the wedding and is depressed by his missing invitation. Doug convinces Stu to invite Alan to Thailand with the gang, and the wedding party is established. So Stu, Phil, Alan, Doug set for Thailand, but to Alan’s chagrin Stu’s future brother-in-law Teddy (Mason Lee) joins them, un-balancing the wolf pack. The first night at the gorgeous resort, Phil suggests a night campfire relaxation period for the group to bond. Grabbing an unopened six-pack from the desk ands setting up on the beach for a tame night of unwinding, the wolf pack and Teddy get ready to unwind. But when Phil, Stu, and Alan wake up in a seedy hotel with no recollection of the night before, they only have one reaction: “It happened again.” The wolf pack is stuck looking for Teddy as Doug informs them he’s missing in Bangcock, where they’ll meet new friends, old friends, and of course new enemies.
Oh look, Alan wearing something funny…again.
Let’s get this out right away. You’re right haters, The Hangover: Part II was not as good as the original. Yes, everything was just recreated in a new setting. Yes, the new film gets too hung up on referencing moments of the first in an egotistical nostalgia. Yes, Phillips doesn’t change a damn thing in the sequel in a frustratingly uncreative attempt to deliver the exact same experience the first Hangover put us through. This was the voiced trouble many people had with Phillips going ahead with a second Hangover, and Phillips disappointingly validates this point with his actions. There were so many new elements to introduce in a second film and Phillips had the chance to build on what worked in the first, but he squanders these opportunities. The character of Doug (Justin Bartha) really has no place in this movie, as he just happens to disappear from the group before their second drug induced disaster. I was looking for Doug to be thrown in the mix this time, giving us another character to connect with and a new source for comedy. There’s actually not much of a point in singling out all the similarities because you could place each movie side by side and watch the events unfold in the exact same order essentially. The formula wasn’t tweaked a bit, and you’ll feel as if you’re just re-watching the original.
But, the factor you can’t ignore that makes The Hangover: Part II still a worth while one time watch is that no matter how you compare them, the latest Hangover still has laughs. It admittedly never truly hits the comedy of the first, actually taking a darker tone on the script, but the laughs are still there. Be it cashing in or taking the motto “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” to heart, if you copy the formula from a previously successful comedy, why would it fail this time? The base of the film and key moments still hold weight, but the sequel just doesn’t have the same effect at all times. In equally disappointing fashion, Zach Galifianakis’ character Alan just doesn’t have the same bite because again, we’ve seen it done before. His foolishly childish antics just come off as stale instead of hilarious as in the original, which is the repeat effect of the reiterating nature The Hangover: Part II struggles with as a whole.
Even the cameo was a let down, which if done right can always generate famous moments in a film. After protests against casting Mel Gibson and the backing out of Liam Neeson, Phillips decided to go with…Nick Cassavetes? Oh you know, the guy who directed The Notebook and Alpha Dog? Oh, you don’t? Not to comment against Cassavetes’ work, but a cameo usually pits a recognizable face in a character the actor wouldn’t normally be seen as. Look to Zombieland’s use of Bill Murray for a perfect example. I can’t see many people getting the Cassavetes reference, or even know who the actor is. It was just another let down from a film that couldn’t live up to its predecessor’s success.
I don’t doubt The Hangover: Part II will slay the box office and I don’t regret seeing The Hangover: Part II in the least. It was a typical flawed comedy that had its hilarious moments, but that’s about it. Part II just didn’t feel like its own film, lacking its own true identity. I couldn’t shake the sensation that Part II wanted nothing but to be exactly like the original, trying not to upset fans of The Hangover with any kind of change. There’s no ambition in The Hangover: Part II. Not even the addition of Paul Giamatti and the bigger focus on Ken Jeong could offset the feeling of mediocrity and the apparent focus on conjuring a repeat success story. This time, the wolf pack lacks their bite in exchange for their over-hyped bark.
Final Rating: 6.5 more vicious black outs out of 10
“It happened again.” Pretty much word for word.