The Hangover Part II (Blu-ray)

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Rating: R

Bradley Cooper as Phil Wenneck
Ed Helms as Dr. Stuart ‘Stu’ Price
Zach Galifianakis as Alan Garner
Justin Bartha as Doug Billings
Ken Jeong as Leslie Chow
Mason Lee as Teddy
Jeffrey Tambor as Sid Garner
Jamie Chung as Lauren
Bryan Callen as Samir
Paul Giamatti as Kingsley
Sasha Barrese as Tracy
Aroon Seeboonruang as Monk
Nirut Sirichanya as Fohn
Yasmin Lee as Kimmy

Directed by Todd Phillips

Special Features:
Instant Streaming with UltraViolet Digital Copy
“Comedy Rhythm of Todd Phillips”
“Not Your Everyday Monkey”
“Bangkok Tour with Mr. Chow”
Action Mash-Up
Gag Reel

Other Info:
Widescreen (2.40:1)
DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 Sound
French and Spanish Language
French and Spanish Subtitles
Running Time: 102 Minutes

The Details:
The following is the official description of the film:

“Phil (Bradley Cooper), Stu (Ed Helms), Alan (Zach Galifi anakis) and Doug (Justin Bartha) travel to exotic Thailand for Stu’s wedding. What could go wrong? Director Todd Phillips’ explosively funny follow-up to his award-winning smash hit demonstrates that though what happens in Vegas may stay in Vegas, what happens in Bangkok can hardly be imagined!”

“The Hangover Part II” is rated R for pervasive language, strong sexual content including graphic nudity, drug use, and brief violent images.

The Movie:
After getting drunk, drugged, stealing a tiger, a police car and a small Asian man – and misplacing their best friend in the process – you would think Phil (Bradley Cooper), Stu (Ed Helms) and Alan (Zach Galifianakis) would have learned their lesson about having ‘one last night out with the guys.’ But apparently not, because when it’s Stu’s turn at the altar, the members of the ‘Wolfpack’ find themselves living Santayana’s famous aphorism as literally possible.

The result is one of the laziest sequels made in quite a while.

A lot of what made the original “Hangover” work is still visible in “The Hangover Part II” mainly because returning director Todd Phillips and his screenwriters have taken the expedient of repeating the first film in so many details and with so few variations, it’s hard to find a reason to bother watching the new one. You’d be just as well off watching the first one over again.

The constant demand for a sequel is ‘the same but different.’ It could be the details of the world created, or dangling plot threads or just really interesting characters, and then taken and developed further. But Phillips isn’t having any truck with that, instead putting the same characters through the exact same ringer as before.

There are some differences but they’re all so superficial they make no real difference. The action has been moved from Vegas to Bangkok. The wedding is Stu’s, not best friend Doug (who is excluded from the entire adventure despite being conscious and available this time around), and the person missing is the little brother (Mason Lee) of Stu’s fiancée. And the tiger and baby have been combined in the form of a drug-selling monkey.

But the actual actions all of these ‘changes’ provoke are entirely the same as before, and there is nothing less funny than a joke you already know the punchline to.

To be fair, a lot of that is true only in relation to the first film and judging it for what it’s not instead of for what it is. So what is “The Hangover Part II” actually? Sporadically funny but also missing the extra ‘something’ needed to go from mediocre to good.

If you’ve seen the first what’s missing is surprise and no matter how fair you try to be, that will be hard to get past. A lot of the original’s biggest laughs were tied in with the plot as much as their individual set ups and losing that extra leg knocks a lot of the foundation off balance. Phillips and company have thought long and hard about how far over the top to take some of their gags and they’ve gone a pretty fair way. Surprise combined with horror is the hallmark of Phillips’ comic style and he’s trying as hard as he can to top himself with “The Hangover Part II,” but that focus only goes as far as the actual gags themselves. It feels less like “The Hangover Part II” than it does like “The Hangover” 2.0, as if Phillips were trying to go back and make the first film funnier instead of making a new one.

On the other hand, if you’ve never seen the original “The Hangover Part II” does work much better as the kind of madcap romp the filmmakers seem to have in mind as the ‘Wolfpack’ hook up with the scene stealing Chow (Ken Jeong) again to try and find what part of Bangkok’s underbelly they left Teddy in. But the connections between and development of the characters are completely absent; outside of Stu, Phil and Alan are along basically just because they were part of the group the first time around and are expected to be back. It’s a problem especially visible with Cooper, who doesn’t have Galifianakis’ mugging ability and whose character did all the developing he was going to do already.

“The Hangover Part II” is decently funny, but it’s also a colossal waste of time. The filmmakers have put so little effort into creating something new even the jokes suffer because we already know how it’s all going to come out.

The Extras:
While this Blu-ray lacks a real ‘making of’ documentary, it goes all out in original content. For example, you get a mockumentary in the format of “E! True Hollywood Stories” detailing all of the lurid secrets of the cast. You find out that Bradley Cooper is actually small, he wears a hair weave, and more. You also find out that Ken Jeong sold an energy drink that was essentially jet fuel. And after filming in Thailand, you discover from J.J. Abrams and other directors that no other productions can shoot in the country because of their antics there. They really went all out in making this look authentic and the end result is pretty funny.

In “Bangkok Tour with Mr. Chow,” Ken Jeong takes you on a tour of the city while in character. It’s as outrageous and politically incorrect as you might expect. Rounding out the bonus features are a featurette on director Todd Phillips, another on the monkey, and a gag reel.

Also included is an UltraViolet Digital Copy. I’m not a big fan of this because it requires you to stream the movie and to sign up for an account with Flixster. It’s really inconvenient and I prefer having my digital copies stored locally on my portable devices.