Movie Review: The Hangover Part II (2011)

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Bradley Cooper, Ken Jeong, Ed Helms and Zach Galifianakis in The Hangover Part II
Photo: Warner Bros.

When I saw The Hangover back in 2009 it had me rolling. When it came time to watch it again on Blu-ray I immediately began to feel the film’s length. The novelty had already started to wear off and while it still had its share of laughs it simply wasn’t anywhere near as funny as it was the first time around. That said, you can probably predict my opinion on The Hangover Part II when I tell you it is pretty much a carbon copy of the first film only set in a different city.

Last time it was Doug (Justin Bartha) that was getting married as he and his friends Phil (Bradley Cooper) and Stu (Ed Helms) and his now brother-in-law Alan (Zach Galifianakis) took to Las Vegas for a bachelor party that went all kinds of wrong. This time the party moves overseas as it is now Stu’s turn to get married (unfortunately, no, not to the Vegas stripper played by Heather Graham in the original). The wedding is being held in Thailand and everyone’s invited.

I’m going to skip any additional setup and just tell you Phil (Bradley Cooper), Stu (Ed Helms) and Alan (Zach Galifianakis) find themselves in the exact same situation as before, only this time they spend a wild night in Thailand and can’t find Stu’s soon-to-be brother-in-law Teddy (Mason Lee). Also, a monkey replaces the baby from the first film and the less-than-well-endowed Mr. Chow (played once again by the annoying Ken Jeong) has joined the party.

The scenario is set as the boys wake up in a dingy apartment in Bangkok, they can’t remember what happened, the wedding is the next day and someone is missing and needs to be found. Sound familiar? This isn’t The Hangover Part II, it’s Hangover 1.25 and as the first film gets increasingly boring on repeated viewing, this one suffers from those problems from the outset.

There are three emotions you’re likely to feel while watching The Hangover Part II, the first of which is tired. The fact this is more or less the same film with a few ramped up scenarios that are likely to offend any number of minority (or majority depending on who is being targeted) groups isn’t necessarily funny or interesting as much as it just feels like bullying, not to mention it has been done before and done before with more wit and less blunt force. Just because it’s done on a larger scale here doesn’t make it any more humorous.

You’re also going to feel annoyed, first with Galifianakis’ Alan who seems to have gotten dumber from one movie to the next to where he now comes off as someone who should probably be locked in a padded room and fed applesauce rather than roaming about as an unwitting menace to society. Secondly, Ken Jeong as Mr. Chow was mildly funny in the first film when he kidnapped “Black Doug” and jumped out of the car trunk with a tire iron, naked and lacking. However, Chow has a much larger role in this film and whatever accent Jeong is trying to put on — something of a high-pitched gangsta-speak squeal — becomes so grating you begin to rue the day you ever laughed at anything he’s ever done.

Finally, there will be brief moments where you’ll be entertained. Yes, there are some laughs to be found in The Hangover 2 and they are primarily similar to the moments you would still laugh at when watching the first film. The difference being, while walking away from The Hangover I was repeating several of the fun one liners; I don’t remember any of them from this film, which is really more of a vulgar assault than an attempt at actual comedy.

I guess this shouldn’t come as much of a surprise considering the original Hangover screenwriters, Jon Lucas and Scott Moore, had nothing to do with this film as director Todd Phillips, Scot Armstrong and Craig Mazin stepped in to collaborate. So I guess this is what you get when the people who collectively wrote Due Date, School for Scoundrels, The Heartbreak Kid, Scary Movie 3, Scary Movie 4 and Superhero Movie team up on a screenplay, a mean-spirited copy of another film attempting to pass itself off as funny.

The Hangover Part II is a tired retread that bludgeons its audience rather than invites them into the fun. The first film had charm to go along with its raunchier bits, this one has none of that. This is the Transformers 2 of comedy sequels where the mindset was “bigger is better” and they couldn’t have been more wrong.

GRADE: C-