‘Hangover 2’: A sobering reason why sequels don’t always work

The ex­tremely pop­u­lar Hangover fran­chise (I call it a fran­chise be­cause I fully ex­pect a Part III in a couple years) is back with an­oth­er wed­ding and more drug-in­duced male de­bauch­ery.

Un­for­tu­nately, Part II is miss­ing the un­ex­pec­ted and un­pre­dict­able ele­ments that made the first movie so en­joy­able. There was only one mo­ment that really took me by sur­prise, and that’s only be­cause I had not read any­thing about the movie be­fore go­ing in. I won’t spoil the mo­ment here in my re­view, but the shock­ing part is be­ing dis­cussed/ques­tioned all over the In­ter­net.

If you need a re­cap, it’s been two years since the wolf pack of Phil (Brad­ley Cooper), Stu (Ed Helms) and Alan (Zach Gal­i­fi­ana­kis) had a night to re­mem­ber in Las Ve­gas (even though they couldn’t ac­tu­ally re­call any­thing the next morn­ing). 

One thing was cer­tain … their buddy and the groom-to-be Doug (Justin Bartha) was miss­ing just hours be­fore his wed­ding. So the guys went on a wild goose chase, un­cov­er­ing all sorts of may­hem that happened the night be­fore along the way.

So what is dif­fer­ent in Part II you ask? Ba­sic­ally, just the loc­ale and the groom. This time, the guys are in Thai­l­and for Stu’s wed­ding to the ex­tremely for­giv­ing Lauren (Jam­ie Chung). 

The wild Chow (Ken Jeong) is still around, still an­noy­ing and still show­ing more un­clothed body parts than I would have liked to see. Chow’s up to no good and the bad guys are on his tail. Sound fa­mil­i­ar? And Mike Tyson — yep, he’s back too with more bad singing.

I felt like the writers (Craig Mazin, Scott Arm­strong) and writer/dir­ect­or Todd Phil­lips awk­wardly worked in Alan’s pres­ence this time. Be­cause really, let’s face it, would you want to travel over­seas with the creepy guy that drugged you dur­ing your last get to­geth­er? Yeah, me neither.

Also, it of­ten felt like the writers took the first script and did a lot of cut­ting and past­ing to it, in­stead of com­ing up with a new one. De­lete Ve­gas, in­sert Thai­l­and. De­lete ti­ger, in­sert mon­key. De­lete baby, in­sert monk. You get the gist.

An­oth­er prob­lem is that a lot of people can re­late to go­ing to Ve­gas, hav­ing a wild time and maybe not re­mem­ber­ing some of it. Thai­l­and’s not your every­day get­away. There is a heavy fo­cus on sex work­ers and Buddhists, who are de­pic­ted (ste­reo­typed?) as the norm. 

The plot mostly fol­lows Stu, a dent­ist whose soon-to-be fath­er-in-law com­pares to white rice, i.e. bland. Stu is per­fectly happy with a bach­el­or brunch, but his bud­dies con­vince him to come out and have a beer on the beach. Also tag­ging along is Jam­ie’s col­lege-age broth­er Teddy (Ma­son Lee). The guys wake up the next morn­ing in a dis­gust­ing Bangkok room and no­tice Teddy is miss­ing, hav­ing left an es­sen­tial ap­pend­age be­hind as the only clue to what happened the pre­vi­ous night.

For the most part, the guys seem to be play­ing them­selves. Gal­i­fi­ana­kis still gets all the best lines. Helms is once again the punch line to the most un­for­tu­nate jokes.

I can’t deny there are many laughs, with the biggest guf­faws com­ing dur­ing the end cred­its’ photo mont­age. Over­all, with The Hangover Part II, there is def­in­itely a let­down and a feel­ing of “this is the best they could come up with for the se­quel?” 

Movie Grade: B-

You can reach at shorbrook@bsmphilly.com.

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