Movie Review: The Hangover II
By Matthew Huntley
June 1, 2011
In The Hangover Part II, a character screams at the top of his lungs, “I can’t believe this is happening again!” Funny, I was thinking the same thing watching this tired, lackluster sequel, which is more or less a remake of the first movie, only not as fresh, rhythmic or amusing. What’s also hard to believe is it took three writers to devise the plot, when all they seemed to have done is perform a search and replace function using the original’s screenplay.
Let’s see, they’ve replaced Las Vegas with Bangkok; Jägermeister shots with laced marshmallows; a missing friend with a missing 16-year-old Thai kid; a broken tooth with a facial tattoo; and a baby with a monkey. Because the first Hangover was such an enormous hit, and because the filmmakers and studio now had the liberty of doing whatever they wanted, it’s irritating to think this is the best they could come up with.
What did they come up with? Well, if you’ve seen the original, there’s not a whole lot to explain. The three guys from the last movie - Phil (Bradley Cooper), Stu (Ed Helms) and Alan (Zach Galifianakis) - travel to Thailand for Stu’s wedding, and what starts out as a quiet bachelor party on the beach turns into two days of chaos and mayhem as the fellas, nicknamed “The Wolf Pack,” try to piece together their wild and crazy night, none of which they can remember. And just like before, they lose a member of their party, but instead of it being Doug (Justin Bartha), who’s relegated to a supporting role, they lose Stu’s fiancée’s little brother, Teddy (Mason Lee).
That’s the setup. The payoff is supposed to be all the hijinks that ensue as the heroes recollect their night and try to unravel the mystery of what happened. But the jokes and merriment are limited this time around as it becomes clear the writers quickly ran out of ideas and simply left the characters to meander from one Bangkok locale to another with no real comedic consequence. Their journey takes them from a dilapidated hotel to a tattoo parlor to a transsexual strip club to a monk temple to a meeting with a tough-nose businessman (Paul Giamatti). Mixed in the shuffle are a high-speed chase and a couple encounters with Mr. Chow (Ken Jeong), the Asian, Ebonics-speaking criminal from the first movie who serves no real purpose other than the filmmakers needed an excuse to bring him back.
And that’s what the whole movie feels like: an excuse. Its function is not to continue or add to the story but to simply cash in on the original’s success. Of course we suspect that going in, but even so, little effort has been made to come up with new or funny situations. The filmmakers probably figured the first one was still so fresh enough in our minds that as long as they retread it, we’d be satisfied.
But surprisingly, The Hangover Part II has a lot of dead time and there are moments when we question the punch lines. For instance, are we supposed to laugh at the guys taking a beating from a monk with a bamboo stick? Or at a monkey sucking on a water bottle that’s been placed under a monk’s robe so it looks like he has an erection? Or at one of the guys getting shot in the arm? Did the screenwriters laugh at these moments when they were putting them down on paper?
The movie just feels lazy and comes off as rather dull and directionless. It constantly stops and goes, stops and goes, but none of it is comical. It’s a dead zone of jokes stolen from the original, which itself was a tad overrated. My advice for The Hangover Part III: discard this structure and start from scratch, because we’ve been there and done that. Or better yet, just don’t make it, because I doubt anyone would accept that Phil, Stu and Alan could experience a series of hangover-related misadventures for a third time. Based on the reactions of people coming out of Part II, there shouldn’t have been a second time.