The Hangover Part II (2011)

Directed by Todd Phillips
Written by Craig Mazin, Scot Armstrong & Todd Phillips

The “Wolfpack” is back from the extremely popular, extremely successful The Hangover from 2009. That film was so successful and groundbreaking in fact, executives green lit the production of this film, its sequel, before it was ever even released in theaters. When the original came out it created a sensation. People of all (mature) ages came out in droves to experience the Las Vegas bachelor party antics of Phil (Bradley Cooper), Alan (Zack Galifiankis) and Stu (Ed Helms) as they searched through the rubble of the previous night to find their friend Doug (Justin Bartha). The original film was great because it was just that, original. It took a cliched concept (a bachelor party in Vegas) and took it to a place no one had ever taken it before. I was not as won over by it by some, though I certainly recognize it comedic merits as well as its ability to create a unique experience. So what does the “Wolfpack” have cooking for the sequel?

Well this time it is Stu (Helms) who is tying the knot, and in Thailand. He begrudgingly invites Alan (Galifiankis) at the last minute and takes every precaution to avoid a rehash of Vegas, including attempting to host the bachelor party as a brunch at IHOP. However once in Thailand, Phil (Cooper) persuades Stu into one beer around a bonfire on the beach of this lush resort. They invite the brides younger brother Teddy to join them, and what results is another night of dangerous, ridiculous frivolity. This time Doug (Bartha) is saved and manages to escape the throngs of the “Wolfpack”. However, Teddy becomes the new victim and the team must search Bangkok, with the aid of old friend Mr. Chow (Ken Jeong), to find him in order to save Stu’s wedding.

The biggest problem might be that this film is the same as the first, just with a different, now exotic, location. At the same time, there are worse things that could have made this film less than its predecessor. The Hangover Part II follows the same formula as the first and creates its own strange world of missteps and dead ends that the “Wolfpack” must overcome, including a monkey and an intimidating businessman played by Paul Giamatti. Despite its hilarious scenes and concepts, I couldn’t help but being somewhat bored by its less than original take on the gang.

The first film was unpredictable because we, as the audience, had not seen it before. Now having seen the first, the second becomes predictable and for that reason it is a bit disappointing. The set up is fine, it is the execution that is lacking. I wonder why director Todd Phillips decided not to shake things up in the sequel. Perhaps include Doug (Bartha) into the festivities as a fresh face. Instead we are left wondering, along side the cast, how did this happen again? The cast brings their A-game as Cooper, Helms and Galifiankis are great as Phil, Stu and Alan, but I can’t help but realize that the comedy in this film worked less than the first. That much can be evidenced by the fewer laughs in my sold out theater.

But the fact remains that it will be a massive financial success, which will most likely spawn another sequel, though Phillips has already said that one more sequel would end the series. For fans of the original, The Hangover Part II offers enough of the same to earn its name, but for fans looking for something new and different, they will not get it.

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