The Hangover Part II could have easily been one of the best comedies of the summer, but instead of embracing the challenge of besting the first film, it hides behind the popularity of its predecessor, becoming nothing more than an uninspired copy.
The film opens up on Phil exclaiming that “it happened again,” and these words could only be truer had he said, “All this has happened before, and all this will happen again.” But I don’t really take him to be a Battlestar Galactica fan. Point is, the writers are obviously a fan of Mad Libs and draw from this passion to create this sequel: While celebrating [name]’s impending wedding in [location], Phil, Stu, and Alan wake up in a hotel room having no recollection of the night before. While looking around the room they realize that [name] is missing, Stu has [alteration to face], and they have somehow come into possession of a [animal]. At some point they believe that they have found the missing person, but when they go to the [location] to retrieve him they realize it is not the same person. Mr. Chow jumps out of the [container] to attack them, [no-no bits] are all around, and when all leads have been explored something clicks and they realize the missing person was on/in the [location] the whole time. The end.
To get the few compliments out of the way, the cast members reprising their roles are good for a laugh here and there as they recreate the dysfunctional 3-man friendship of the first film and backtrack through the night. Oh, and the monkey is cute if you subtract the smoking habit. There, all done. Upon a second viewing even Zach Galifianakis’ quirkiness and Bradley Coopers’ dreaminess cannot make going down memory lane one more time worth it. The comedy feels worn, the situations are forced (the worst of which being a musical number to highlight Ed Helms’ love of breaking out into song no matter the character he is playing), and the lack of further developing the characters leaves plenty to be desired. In addition to this Justin Bartha is still not a full-fledged wolf pack member as he is not included in the main gallivanting (which I am assuming is just another example of the laziness of the writers in their unwillingness to figure out how an additional character would interact with the well-known three as the poo hits the fan). Mr. Chow fills this void somewhat, but it really feels like an opportunity was lost here to further explore the unevolving characters. Unfortunately the best adjectives to describe the adventure are often annoying, lacking in shock (no matter how far they go to get this response from the viewer), and boring because of how unoriginal it is.
To sum up the overall problem that ripples out in a wave of sabotage, the plot of Part II steals heavily from the film before, producing one of the laziest attempts I have ever seen in making a sequel. That is, if it can even be called that. Rather than feeling like a sequel, Part II plays out more like a reinterpretation of the story of the first film.
To stop beating the dead horse The Hangover: Part II is still pretty funny if only unsophisticated humor is expected going in, but after viewing it a second time just to see how well it plays on multiple viewings, I can honestly say that I have no desire to ever see it again. Besides, why spend money on doing so when I can just watch the first film over? After all, they’re pretty much the same thing.
Final grade: C-
PS – I know it is a horrible thing to ask why a beautiful girl is going out with a man that does not seem to be on the same level, but I have yet to see any reason to believe that Stu is deserving of being with Jamie Chung. Granted I know next to nothing about her character. Maybe she has something seriously wrong with her, like a tail or past as an ax murderer or something…