Much like Iron Man 2, this is a film that I have avoided watching for two years now because I heard literally no good things about it. 2009’s The Hangover became one of the true sleeper hits of the 2000s, and it’s not a stretch by any mean to say that it’s one of the great broad comedies of the last twenty years. It reached “instant classic” status without seeming like it even had to try. And then two years later, The Hangover: Part II came out and the reviews were so one-sidedly negative that it seemed like the sequel was so bad it was retroactively ruining the memory of the first film. It doesn’t quite accomplish that, but The Hangover: Part II is still one of the most cynically-produced and legacy shattering sequels I’ve ever had the misery to sit through, and I’ve watched the first three Saw sequels.
The Hangover: Part II is what happens when you take the characters from the first film but make them inherently less likeable, take the situations from the first film and rob them of any freshness and wit, and take the jokes from the first film and butcher the writing, and throw all of that in a blender in Bangkok. Hackneyed and half-assed barely begins to cover the writing of this film, and one has to wonder if the lead actors even had a chance to read the script before they had a chance to sign onto this shit show. With the exception of Zach Galifianakis (who always commits to the role) and Ed Helms (who is as underrated a talent as there is), nothing about this film felt remotely enjoyable or clever from beginning to end.
The Wolfpack, consisting of Stu (Cedar Rapids‘ Ed Helms), Phil (Silver Lining Playbook‘s Bradley Cooper), Alan (Zach Galifianakis), and Doug (Justin Bartha), go to Thailand for Stu’s wedding to the beautiful daughter of a wealthy Thai businessman (with barely any reason given for why he left Heather Graham’s character from the first film). And, of course, one drink at a bonfire on their resort beach turns into Stu, Phil, and Alan waking up in a seedy Bangkok hotel room with no memories of the night before and a coked out Mr. Chow (Community‘s Ken Jeong) waiting for them as they have to unravel the mystery of the night before and what happened to the little brother of Stu’s bride-to-be.
And, from that recooked premise, The Hangover: Part II tries to jam in as many jokes cribbed right from the first film, although it tries to up the ante in ways that generally don’t work. Does Stu sleep with a prostitute again? Check. Does Stu do something permanently damaging to his head/face? Check. In fact, it’s Mike Tyson’s tattoo. Does Alan drug the group? You betcha (You claim spoilers; I claim “who gives a shit, this movie sucked and it was obvious). Does Phil have to call Doug’s wife in a panic? Yep. Does Stu solve the mystery at the last second? Yep. Do they get the wrong version of the person they’re looking for? Uh huh. There isn’t an original bone in The Hangover: Part II‘s body.
The film’s only redeeming moments come in the performances of Ed Helms and, mostly, Zach Galifianakis. Although, Ed Helms emotes and screams and prances even more than usual, and there are points in this film where his over-reaction (which I suppose works within the context of the film) begins to grate. Things mostly rest on the broad shoulders of Galifianakis whose deadpan and spot on inhabiting of the anomaly known as Alan is as brilliant as ever. Alan’s writing is worse this time around, and he goes from being eccentric to mostly a giant asshole, but Galifianakis works with what he’s given, and the film’s only laughs always seemed to come from him.
I watched The Hangover: Part II because reviews for The Hangover: Part III were moderately better, and I was hoping to see it in theaters. I wish I hadn’t wasted my time, and now I’m unsure if I even want to see the trilogy through to its close. This film is unfunny, shoddily made, and more or less, my new Ur-example of everything that’s wrong with most sequels in Hollywood today. Even if you’re a die hard fan of the original Hangover, don’t waste your time on this turd. Something tells me you can still see and appreciate the third film and not waste your time on this awful, obvious cash-in.
Final Score: C-