The expectations for the sequel to The Hangover really couldn't have been higher, considering how beloved the original is. Before you see the film, I advise that you severely lower the bar for The Hangover Part II, because it is, unfortunately, a shadow of its predecessor. In the second film, Phil (Bradley Cooper), Stu (Ed Helms), Doug (Justin Bartha) and Alan (Zach Galifianakis) are headed to a wedding and want to have one last bachelor party hurrah before one of them gets married. Sound familiar? It should. The plot is exactly the same as the first movie.
Sure, there are some tweaks. This time, it's Stu that's getting married, and the boys are all headed to Thailand for the event. When the guys decide to have a low-key night before the wedding, they toast their beer bottles . . . and then wake up the next morning in Bangkok with absolutely no memory of the previous evening. They spend the rest of the movie piecing together the details of the night so they can locate a missing member of their group.
The Hangover Part II is a retread that's so close to the original, you wonder if the writers doubted its audience's intelligence or were just too lazy to come up with something new. Either way, the movie and its signature wolf pack still get laughs, but it's lacking the magic that made the original Hangover an instant classic. To see what else I thought, just read more.
I was eager to see the wolf pack reunite, but it would have been nice to see some character development. Instead, the sequel only exaggerates the personalities of the men. Phil is more obnoxious, Alan is even more awkward and eccentric, and so on. Chow (Ken Jeong) is the only character that's more entertaining the second time around. More of a friend than villain in this film, Jeong mercilessly steals every scene he's in. With everyone else stuck in the same mold, Jeong's distinction and nonchalant comedic performance make him the standout.
One way The Hangover Part II surpasses the first film is in the gross-out humor. Clearly the filmmakers felt pressure to top themselves, and in the sequel they succeed to the point of discomfort. That dirty feeling is pervasive. Where the first film was a bit dark, it was also balanced with some lightness — the guys could at least laugh a little about their antics. But in Part II, the more we learn about what they got up to the night before, the less we want to know. You feel as filthy as they do, and the grimy backdrop of Bangkok's more depraved establishments contributes to that effect.
The setting, the repercussions of the night before, and the stakes of the missing person all plunge you into a movie that doesn't always feel like a comedy. Everything gets worse before it gets better, and the "better" part, the ending, still left me with a bad taste in my mouth. Ultimately, it's just another sequel that tries for its predecessor's greatness and falls far short.