Screen Rant's Vic Holtreman reviews Hangover II
Ah, comedy sequels... after a very successful and funny first film, the question is whether The Hangover Part II is as funny as the original (to which we gave 4 out 5 stars). I'll just cut to the chase and answer that: No, it's not, and that's too bad because I was looking forward to this one.
The original film had an interesting premise and a cast that made up for a funny combination of personalities. We had Bradley Cooper as Phil - roguishly handsome but foul mouthed, self-involved and pretty much a jerk of a fellow; Ed Helms as Stu - not so handsome and more of a "regular guy" who probably hung out with Phil because he's a "fun guy"; and Alan, played by Zack Galifianakis - the severely socially handicapped, and apparently more than slightly mentally handicapped member of the group.
The plot here is pretty much identical to that of the first film: A bachelor party ends up going terribly awry when our band of buddies is drugged by one of their own. I actually gave credit to the film when right from the start it delivers a shot of Phil on the phone with his wife saying "it happened again." Great, let's not dance around the issue - just call it what it is: a duplicate of the first film just set in a different location.
This time instead of Las Vegas, they're in Thailand - Stu is getting married to a young Thai woman who is ridiculously too gorgeous for him. Her father is not shy about showing his disdain and dislike for Stu, a situation which is resolved in a very poor way at the end of the film. The fiancee (Jamie Chung) has a younger brother named Teddy (Mason Lee) who is a stereotypical Asian prodigy: He's headed for Stanford at age 16 for a medical degree, and is a virtuoso cello player. Alan takes a dislike to Teddy, since Stu wants him to be a part of their group since he's, you know, his fiancee's brother and all.
This dislike is the catalyst for what was supposed to be one beer a couple of nights before the wedding turning into 24 hours of memory loss and mayhem. In the first film it was Alan's brother who was missing and the source of their frantic quest - this time it's Teddy. Along the way they run into Russian gangsters, Paul Giamatti (always a pleasure to watch on screen) as another bad guy, transsexual go-go dancers, and Ken Jeong as Mr. Chow, the helium-voiced gangster from the first film.
While in the first film I thought Galifianakis stole the movie, here his character was mostly irritating - while he was clueless and dim-witted in the first film, he had an endearing quality about him. Here, for some reason, they wrote him as a completely obnoxious jerk, and it detracted from the character quite a bit. Ed Helms' theatrics seemed like they were meant to make Stu the "steal the movie" character, but it was so over the top it actually felt kind of "self-aware" - as if he was screaming "look at me, isn't this EXTREME!?"
While Todd Phillips directed both films, the sequel was not written by the same folks who wrote the first one. The original film was pretty crude in its humor, with some unexpected and extreme bits, and it seems like in this film they felt like they needed to push the boundaries even further. Only it didn't make the movie any funnier, it just made it more crass. And while in concept, the ending where Stu finally stands up to his fiancee's father is logical and makes sense, the particulars of how they went about doing this and what Stu's speech entailed was ridiculous.
Were there some laughs? Sure, but unless you think that penises are really LOL funny you might not laugh very much. Then again, a couple of beers prior to seeing this might make it funnier.
Here's a trailer for The Hangover Part II: