Review: 'The Hangover Part II' is a Funny Retread of Familiar Ground
by Jeremy Kirk
May 25, 2011
Director Todd Phillips' two best friends are the copy and the paste buttons. To be fair, he's not the only screenwriter on The Hangover Part II, the retread/remake/okay, we'll call it a sequel to the 2009 smash hit, The Hangover. Between Phillips, Scot Armstrong, and Craig Mazin, we can't be sure who clicked copy, who clicked paste and who sorted through it with the replace feature to switch things up just the tiniest bit. In place of Doug, the three leads, Phil, Alan, and Stu, have misplaced Stu's soon-to-be bride's brother. In place of a tiger, we've got a cute monkey. In place of a missing tooth, we've got a face tattoo a la Mike Tyson.
But is The Hangover Part II funny? That's the real key here, right, the one forgivable reason why so many comedy sequels rehash plots of their successors instead of coming up with fresh narrative devices. Yes, it's funny. Probably about as funny as the third, fourth, or even fifth time you watch the original Hangover. Does it make you laugh? Sure. Is it original? Not in the slightest.
This time around - oh, yeah, Vegas has been replaced by Bangkok, Thailand - Stu, played again by Ed Helms, is getting married, and the wolf pack is in tow. But the night before the wedding, our three, irresponsible heroes black out once again. With Stu's would-be brother-in-law, Teddy, missing, the three must once again piece together what happened to them, where the 16-year-old Teddy has disappeared to, and where exactly did that jacket-wearing, smoking monkey come from.
There's a comfort level with being on another adventure with these familiar characters. Phil, played again by Bradley Cooper, is the one who thinks he's cooler than he actually is. Stu is again the paranoid one who thinks all is lost. Alan is the clueless one, the one who mistakes a Buddhist monastery for a P.F. Changs. That's all fine and dandy, but you can't help but get side-tracked by all the familiarity in the structure, as well. There are so many similarities found in The Hangover Part II that it's hard not to wonder why you wouldn't just stay at home and put The Hangover on your TV.
And it isn't even like there are creative ways Phillips, Armstrong, and Mazin recreate certain moments from The Hangover. Even Ken Jeong's Mr. Chow shows up. Did I say show up? I meant to say he is shoe-horned into the script. He's Alan's plus-one for Stu's wedding. Why not, right? When you're dealing with someone as funny as Ken Jeong, it really doesn't matter that he has no natural business being present in the film. Just let all that wash over you and take in the funny, of which The Hangover Part II provides in abundance.
There'd be a lot of lying involved to say this movie isn't funny. These characters and the actors who portray them are funny for the most part. To see them stumbling around when they first wake up from their night of debauchery, to witness Stu/Helms' reaction to the newly acquired tattoo down the left side of his face is very funny. And that, much like The Hangover, is what drives a lot of the comedy in this sequel. The reactions on display are much of the reason why the original film was such a success. And with that success, Phillips and crew heard what their audience was saying as a cry for more. Well, we've got more. Much more.
Of course, there's a bit of a difference in Zach Galifianakis' Alan. He's still every bit as Alan as he was in the first film minus a few scenes near the beginning where he has evidently become an entitled brat. That's odd, but it subsides quickly. For much of the movie, though, it's all Alan all the time. Hardly a scene, maybe even hardly a shot, goes by without Alan saying something absurd, giving someone funny look, or even popping his head in behind another character. Alan was a huge part of The Hangover, to be sure, but it, much like a lot of what drives The Hangover Part II, grows to a point of feeling forced.
But that almost feels like a nitpick when it's spelled out like that. In fact, it almost seems like a nitpick to complain about how similar this is to The Hangover - really, I'm not sure if I'm getting across how many of the same jokes and beats are revisited here. Through all of that, the similarities, the odd projection of Alan's character, even the apparent shoe-horning of Mr. Chow, The Hangover Part II finds a way to make you roll all over that floor and laugh your ass off. Pertaining to the level of velocity with which Phillips and his team write in the jokes, you can't say they didn't try. Those jokes do come in hard and fast and end up pushing the envelope even more so than they did in the first film. Evidently, what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas, but what happens in Bangkok shouldn't even be considered to the unassuming, outside world.
When all is said and done, though, The Hangover Part II allows you to revisit these old friends, but it's not a trip you will remember as fondly as the last time. While it succeeds in making you laugh, uproariously at times, Part II is purely and simply a rehash. Call it nitpicking, but replace the actors, and you could have just as easily have called this thing The Hangover and sell it as a remake. Todd Phillips could have done that with the find and replace feature. It's his third favorite.
Jeremy's Rating: 5.5 out of 10
Reader Feedback - 23 Comments
Are you saying there should be no continuity? Of course the actors are playing the same characters. Did you expect it to be a chilling drama this time out? I'm sure its still plenty funny and exactly what every viewer expects: another experience with the same group of guys. It may not be AS funny, but we've seen these guys before...and we are coming back for more.
Beaner7305 on May 25, 2011
You giving it a 5.5/10 with a review like that seems really odd. You say it's still hilarious but the plot is the same. Look at a bunch of other films who do the exact same thing, and yet heralded as great. My favorite to pick on Avatar has scenes literally ripped from other movies. And yet the world bows down to it's supposed greatness. So why a 5.5/10? Why not a more fair score. You need to learn the number rating system sir.
S Christian Roe on May 25, 2011
In a way, doing the same thing seems like the right choice as the first film was such a success. Why change anything, right? But as this is a thorough retread it does get thin and predictable. Funnier at times than the first and totally more audacious but Jeremy's right, somethings just feel forced. On the plus side, you'll laugh a ton and it's pretty effen funny, but this just doesn't the longevity that the first film had since this is simply only a redo.
Anonymous on May 25, 2011
The movie was great! As good as the first one. Of course the same stuff happened again..it's the same people. It's a comedy not a best picture film and it's mad of win!
Josh on May 25, 2011
The only thing that makes me want to see the movie is Jamie Chung. Other than that I just have 0 interest...
Davide Coppola on May 25, 2011
You're so cool. When I have a son, I want him to be just like you.
Englishman in Reno on May 26, 2011
I felt tired of this film after the trailer and them trying to do "the same thing" all over and have to many characters return.
Ryderup on May 25, 2011
I thought it had some funny moments. But the first one was just miles better imo. The whole formula, the over-the-top adventures,... it was insane. So with the 2nd movie, you know you're getting the same formula and you're hyping yourself up for some batsh*t insane moments. Therein probably lies the problem, sure it's crazy, but it just didn't really cut it for me. And if it were even crazier, it would probably feel even more forced doing so because they'd need some sort of "happy" ending. It would be great if they could throw in Justin Bartha for the 3rd movie, not just as some sort of "friend of the wolfpack" but as an actual "wolf" 🙂
Neuromancer on May 25, 2011
Eh, I'll see it, but I won't pay for it.
Xerxexx on May 25, 2011
5.5? your reviews are always off
Andrew P on May 26, 2011
I saw a free preview. It was funny but not as funny as the first. I think there was more shock factor in the first.
CoasterBoy12345 on May 26, 2011
Anyone complaining about the score Jeremy gave this should realize a few things. 1 - This is a lazy fucking film. The plot is identical to the first one. IDENTICAL!. 2 - Just because a film can make you laugh, this does not make the rest of the film immune from criticism. 3 - (this one is the most important) You probably have a bunch of sand in your vagina which is why you are complaining about a film getting one bad review when it will inevitably make hundreds of millions of dollars and be a huge success.
Lebowski on May 26, 2011
Its a hangover movie you saw the trailers you know what your getting yrself into....also i think if a film can you make you laugh it deserves higher than a 5..7...at most P.S. No sand in this vagina good sir
Andrew P on May 26, 2011
No Mel. No Hang Over 2 for me. WB f'd up as far as I'm concerned. BOOM.
Rp1n on May 26, 2011
Check out my review of THE HANGOVER PART II: http://thismovieguy.blogspot.com/2011/05/movie-review-hangover-part-ii.html
This Movie Guy on May 26, 2011
I wouldnt waste my money watching this in theatres. I'd much rather wait for it to come out on Blu Ray and waste the same amount of money that I'd spend going to see it with my family. Yes, we all did see trailers for this movie and we know exactly what we are getting ourselves into... doesn't make the lack of storyline justifiable. You all say that "great comedy movies use the same formula for sequels" ? okay, name the great comedy sequels that did so and worked... the movie looks exactly like the first one in a different setting.... not to mention that Mr Phillips had the audacity to say that this movie was always seen as a trilogy. You suckers are the sheep that will watch the same film for a THIRD time. Ticket prices aren't any cheaper than $8+... Why would I spend my money for a one time watch of a rehashed storyline? Most of you are complaining about a 5.5 score... doesn't mean the movie is terrible. To me it just means that it isn't worth catching it in a theatre. You guys are so sensitive.
ind3lible on May 26, 2011
I found the movie hilarious and enjoyed it all
Duck on May 26, 2011
it was really bad tbh... had to force myself to laugh at points
Yekim23 on May 26, 2011
who in the hell forces themselves to laugh? You need to see a psychiatrist mate.
Englishman in Reno on May 26, 2011
ind3lible on May 26, 2011
SandVagina on May 26, 2011
I loved it. Just another great comedy. All I cared about is that it made me laugh.
Tyban on May 27, 2011
Watch This Movie Online at http://WWW.MOVIE-FEVER.NET
sooogle204 sooogle204 on Jul 13, 2011
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