Movie Review: The Hangover Part II

Rated: MA 15+
Director : Todd Phillips
Starring : Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms, Zach Galifianakis, Justin Bartha, Ken Jeong
Running Time : 95 minutes
Release Date : 26 May 2011

The ‘bloke comedy’ genre doesn’t usually merge mainstream moviegoers and demanding film critics into the same union, especially when the film’s director is Todd Phillips (Road Trip, Starsky and Hutch).

However, Phillips’ 2009 flick The Hangover, the story about an out-of-control bachelor party in Las Vegas that results in the groom disappearing and his three hung over buddies on a difficult mission to find him the day before his wedding, took everyone by surprise.

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With its cleverly layered detective story, outrageous plot twists, and endearing bromance between a refreshing male cast, the movie achieved box office success and award recognition at the Golden Globes and BAFTAs.  Two years later, the boys are back for Part II, just to get into then same mess all over again.

This time Stu (Ed Helms) is marrying his girlfriend Lauren in her home of Thailand, at the wish of her father, who isn’t that fond of Stu.  His friends Doug (Justin Bartha), Phil (Bradley Cooper) and their wives come along while they convince Stu to reluctantly invite Doug’s socially awkward brother-in-law Alan (Zach Galifianakis) despite being partially responsible for the mayhem in Vegas.

After the rehearsal dinner in Thailand, the guys and Lauren’s teenage brother Teddy head to the beach to drink to Stu.  However, the hangover curse strikes again.

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This time, the guys find themselves in Bangkok.  They wake up in a shabby hotel room with a monkey, a severed finger, a Mike Tyson tattoo on Stu’s face, and an old familiar face – Leslie Chow (Ken Jeong), the flamboyant Asian gangster from the first film.

Doug calls from Thailand to say that he left early last night, leaving them and Teddy at the beach.  However, Teddy is nowhere to be found in their room.  The men have 24 hours to find Teddy in Bangkok or else Stu could end up destroying his big day.

Personally, I thought The Hangover Part II was going to blow.  Apart from the replacement of the original writers, how could they pitch a sequel after the original resolved all the mayhem with the missing groom, Phil and Stu’s resentment towards Alan’s stupidity and Doug making it to his wedding on time?

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I thought there was not going to be much difference between the original and Part II, and the truth is there isn’t.  They literally retread the same jokes, situations, and lines (only they add ‘again’ at the end of every sentence, the biggest sequel cliché of all), and yet, the result is as hilarious as before.

While Part II is darker and raunchier (there’s a scene in a brothel filled with unexpected ‘inches’), the exhilaration comes from unravelling the mystery at the centre of it and you cannot foresee the mayhem that occurs.  While Bradley Cooper, Ed Elms and Zach Galifianakis are basically reliving the first movie all over again, what makes them funny is trying to make their characters real people in these unbelievable events.  Leslie Chow was obviously written to Ken Jeong’s strength and he is on fire as a comic relief, even if you feel his bitching, Asian stereotype goes on too long.

By changing the setting from Vegas to Bangkok, there are some original comedic moments.  One of which involves the guys visiting a Buddhist Temple and meditate to regain any memory of last night, causing Alan to have a flashback that speaks his man-child state of mind.

However, you have to wonder if watching The Hangover has the same impact as watching Part II without having seen the first movie before.  While it is refreshing and exhilarating to laugh at Part II, you do get that distracting feeling of ‘We’ve been here before’, something Scream 4 avoided.

Part II is not better than The Hangover, although the shocks and laughs never let up.  If you hated the first film, you are going to run a mile from Part II because it pushes the bar of ‘wrong’ further.  If you didn’t, you’re going to have a blast with Part II.

3.5/5 stars

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