Comedy is a genre where in most cases, sequels fail. More than any other genre, comedy sequels have been incredibly hard to pull off. Even horror films have had better success with sequels. The most success lies in animation, while live action has been having missteps for decades . “The Hangover” was a huge success, both financially and critically. In time, I fully believe that it will be remembered one of the most important comedy in this era of film. With this huge success it is no surprise we get a sequel to a film that was fresh and original. I came into the sequel, “The Hangover Part II” with optimism, even if the response wasn’t as loving as the first one. The film is lazy and predictable, playing against the original script’s great strengths, however because of the great characters and a decent amount of laughs, this sequel is enjoyable and certainly worth a look.
The story continues, two years after the original events in Las Vegas. Stu is getting married in Thailand, and the wolfpack returns as Phil, Alan, and Doug travel there to be with their friend as he gets married. Stu is absolutely dead set on not repeating the events that happened last time. The group, plus the bride’s teenage little brother Teddy, decide to spend a nice evening of drinking on the beach. Stu, Phil, and Alan then wake up the next morning in a hotel, in Bangkok, that they have no idea how they got there. They once again can’t remember what happened the night before either. To their relief Doug is safe at Stu’s future in laws house and is keeping them calm. To their horror, they can’t find Teddy at all, so once again they must piece together what happened the night before and find out where Teddy is and return in time for the wedding.
When reading that synopsis, you’ll get the feeling of familiarity. The script really copies many moments from the first one. Almost note for note, except for some small differences and change ups. This goes beyond the “hey that was strangely familiar” moment. These you’ll be going, “hey that was…..exactly the same thing….” The script is penned by Scot Armstrong and Craig Mazin and the difference between these guys and the two screenwriters from the original, is inspiration. When watching the first one you can tell you that everyone involved, was at the top of their game and the writers had a great idea and made a really good script. The best way I can describe this one is the feeling like the new writers forgot to write the script for homework, so they went to their friends to copy their homework but changed a little here and there to make it seem like they didn’t copy and hopefully the teacher won’t catch on when they obviously will. I had no problem with them taking “the hangover” scenario again but trying to make things different with a hint of familiarity, but this really has none of that.
There are certainly good parts of the script. It does stay true to the characters and many of the situations are pretty funny. The pacing is excellent and at the proper length. Even with the new script writers it still feels in the same spirit of the first one. The tone is darker and the situations are much more extreme, for better or for worse.
Director Todd Phillips does a good job with the material he has got. He knows how to frame a joke, and how to time one perfectly. He once again goes for more gross out gags and once again they aren’t funny, with the exception of one. That one is funny because it’s funny to watch others react to it but the joke itself isn’t that funny. Once again the raunchy humor is funny, and the gross out gags aren’t.
The characters are back and they are the saving grace to this film. If the writers, director, or actors messed up on bringing back the characters we loved from the first one, this wouldn’t be that fun or watchable. Bradley Cooper returns as Phil and once again does a great job. Ed Helms returns as Stu, and does good with the material. Zach Galifianakis is back as Alan and steals the show yet again. The writers were smart enough not to overplay their hand with Alan and gets the perfect amount of screen time, and just because the character got so much love from people, they didn’t just decide to make him the front and center star, smart move. Jason Bartha is once again Doug, and is curiously absent from the group even if he isn’t the one they need to find. Bartha is a funny actor; whether he plays the straight man or goofy funny man in other films he is always good and should have had more screen time. Ken Jeong is back as chow and gets a little bigger role, not a huge one but a bigger one than the first one. He is once again over the top, occasionally funny, and annoying, we can only take him in small doses.
Good fresh comedy sequels are hard to come by, and this one doesn’t do it. You may have noticed that this review is ironically structured the same as the first “Hangover” review I wrote, with this, represents the film overall attempt at something new and different in writing the script, with isn’t much. One of the original’s strengths was originality and being unpredictable. This film is all but those things. What keeps the film from sinking underneath that laziness is a decent amount of good laughs, and a chance to visit these great characters again that we all love. This is enjoyable and is fun, nothing more, unlike the original.