The Hangover Part II isn’t so much a “part 2” as it is a direct clone of the original. It’s hilarious, crude, rude, shocking even, and enjoyable, it’s just it’s quite literally the same movie, almost scene for scene.
The entire cast has returned: Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms, Justin Barth, Zach Galifianakis, even Ken Jeong, which is a good thing considering films like this one rely on it’s characters. Alan (Galifianakis) and Mr. Chow (Jeong) stole the first film and part 2 lets the run riot. I felt perhaps these two were a little over played this time, almost becoming satires of themselves. It’s a small problem because without them the film would be a little soulless.
The film is missing a bit of its heart, watching Stu (Harris) dump his partner at the end of the first film was satisfying. It gave the film a sense of journey, that it’s characters had moved forward in their lives and the drug fuelled romp that had just past had some real meaning. This film tries to capture that same sense of journey, but ultimately it falls flat and feels a little thin.
There were opportunities however, new party-goer Teddy (Mason Lee) had an interesting story, but it’s given only a shallow treatment. No, this movie isn’t taking risks plot wise. What it is taking risks with is some of the more shocking content that isn’t just like porn, it really is porn. How some of the content made it into this film without attaining an R 18+ rating is beyond me.
There’s also a smoking a monkey and some racially stereotyped characters to round out the barrage of offensive content. For the record however, the monkey never smoked, it was digitally added later, but of course what do you expect from a film like this? It’s partially built on shock value, and in that regard it does not fail to deliver.
It does have its moments … It is set in Bangkok and really if you don’t know what that means to a Hollywood blockbuster you need to get out more. You’ll laugh and probably gag on your popcorn just as much (see my previous statements) as you did in the first film, and you’ll be thankful it does it all with the same quality. Too many sequels trade off their reputation and cut corners to save money to ensure as much profit as possible, but here everything seems done with a sense of pride. It’s that difference between taking yourself seriously, and taking what you do seriously.
A good sequel often plays on the idea you’re seeing the same thing, it sucks you in to a sense of comfort and then delivers something you didn’t expect. There are numerous opportunities in this film to send the audience into a spin, to abuse the formula and give us a few surprises, the characters and setting are good enough for that opportunity to be there. Unfortunately the film plays it safe, and while it’s certainly not a bad movie, it fails to capture the energy and feeling of the first.
If you didn’t enjoy the first then give this film the wide berth, otherwise it’s a must see in the crowded winter line-up.