Review: The Hangover, Part 2
PLOT: Stu (Ed Helms) is getting married in Thailand, and his wolf pack, including Phil (Bradley Cooper), Alan (Zach Galifianakis), and Doug (Justin Bartha) are there to walk him down the aisle. Swearing off bachelor parties after their experience in Vegas, the boys opt for a quiet beach bonfire, in the company of Stu's fiancées brother, Teddy (Mason Lee). Despite their good intentions, the next morning Stu, Phil, and Alan wake up in a seedy motel room in Bangkok, with no memory of the night before, and Teddy missing. Now the three have to embark on a mad quest through Bangkok to find Teddy in time for Stu's wedding.
REVIEW: When reviewing a comedy, there's really only one question that needs to be answered: is the film funny? In this case, yes, THE HANGOVER, PART 2 is very funny, if not quite on the "pee-your-pants" level of the first film. This is mostly due to the fact that, by following the original film's formula so closely, the sequel can't help but be a bit predictable.
I suppose it could be argued that THE HANGOVER should have been left alone, and that no sequel was necessary. However, when a film with no major stars (at the time), and a reasonable budget comes out and makes $457 million, you can be damn sure it's going to get a sequel. Now, less than two years after their Las Vegas debauchery, the wolf pack is back, in more or less the same movie, with only the location having been changed (Bangkok instead of Vegas).
A feeling of “been there, done that” is probably inevitable as the first film didn't really leave the filmmakers anywhere to go in a sequel. Whatever they came up with, it was bound to be essentially an imitation,with a raging hangover and wacky shenanigans being a must. Still, the public demanded a sequel and here it is. Luckily,THE HANGOVER, PART 2 is still a pretty damn funny flick in it's own right, and far better than the early trailers might have led you to believe.
The best thing about the first film was the chemistry between the three leads, Cooper, Helms and Galifianakis, which each of them becoming major stars in the process. Luckily, the central trio is back, and their chemistry is alive and well. No one character is more prominent that the other (although once again Bartha's Doug misses all the “fun”), and none of the actors stoop to recreating their shtick from the first film (for the most part).
As the de-facto straight man, Cooper's more of a responsible, leader-type guy this go-round, with him not being to slick, big-talker he was in the first film. Of the three, he probably has the fewest laughs, minus a couple of great one-liners early in the film. I guess we needed one of our heroes to seem somewhat in-control, and Cooper fits the bill, just as he did in the first film. In a big leap from part one, Helms' Stu's no longer a wimp, with his adventures in Vegas clearly having made him the type of guy that could land someone like Jamie Chung (as his fiancée, although Heather Graham sits this one out). Once they get going, Stu, sporting a new Mike Tyson tattoo, is the one who`s dark side really starts to get revealed (with one scene involving trans-sexual hookers clearly pushing the R rating to it's breaking point), and Helms is great as always.
As for Galifianakis' Alan, o f the three he's the only one who hasn't changed much from part one, but considering how much audiences took to him, why mess with something that works? He`s just about as funny in PART 2 as he was in the first film, and the scenes between him and a coke snorting/ chain smoking monkey are pretty hilarious.
Ken Jeong is also back as Mr. Chow, the drug-dealing gangster, now conveniently turned BFF to Alan. His presence is a bit of a stretch, but it all pays off in a fun subplot involving Paul Giamatti as a local crime-lord. However, the tacked-on Mike Tyson cameo was the one part of the film that really seemed to be a bit of a cop-out, and really shouldn't have been included. He was funny in the first film because it was so unexpected, but since then he's been popping up in 'Funny Or Die' videos every other week, and he tries to be “zany” here, as opposed to playing it mostly straight in the first film (no Phil Collins sing-along though).
Another issue I had with PART 2 is that, in an effort to top the first film, Todd Phillips might have gone a bit too far, as the plot REALLY strains believability this time, especially with a lengthy car chase that, while cool and well-executed, doesn't really belong in a comedy. The pace also lags a bit from time-to-time, with the first twenty minutes (pre-hangover) being pretty dull. Luckily, once the boys wake up in Bangkok, things pick up, and the laughs start coming.
While I think Phillips might have been a little overly ambitious in staging scenes of carnage, I've got to mention the fact that, like his last few films, THE HANGOVER, PART 2 is beautifully shot, with him and his DP Lawrence Sher doing a great job showing off the beauty of certain part of Thailand, and the seediness of the Bangkok nightlife. I don't think there's another director working in comedy that makes as consistently good-looking films as Phillips.
So, while I doubt anyone will say THE HANGOVER, PART 2 is as good as it's predecessor, it's nonetheless a fun and worthy sequel, boasting more than enough laughs to make it worthwhile. What it lacks in originality, it makes up for in laughs, and should please anyone who liked the first one.
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|Extra Tidbit:||That damn monkey steals every scene he's in!|