The Hangover Part II
Thursday, June 23, 2011 at 9:40PM
Matthew Kopelke in Film

The 2009 film The Hangover was one of that year’s best comedy films. It was an interesting premise that, while lumbered with a stupid resolution, explored some excellent comic concepts. The film worked particularly well because of the brilliant main cast assembled for the film. So given all of this, it was a bit of a no-brainer that a sequel would come a few years later. Well, it has - the Wolf Pack are back again, and this time the setting for their forgotten night of stupidity and antics is Bangkok. Along the way they’ll get a tattoo, find a drug-dealing monkey, and very quickly realise that sometimes doing the same thing over again is never a good idea. This was also a particularly obvious point to the audience, as The Hangover Part II is a rare sequel - one that sets out of perfectly mimic the format, structure, and heck even plot of the original installment. Hence why it’s so boring.

I guess there is something to be said about not messing with a format that clearly worked first time around. But The Hangover Part II has taken this to a new extreme that I’ve not seem in recent Hollywood history. Aside from the references to the first film’s plot, this latest installment is an exact carbon copy of the original. The only changes are it’s a different guy getting married, there’s a monkey instead of a tiger, and they’re in Bangkok instead of Las Vegas. Aside from these cosmetic changes, the plot is the same - Stu (Ed Helms), Phil (Bradley Cooper), and Alan (Zach Galifianakis) wake up after a night of very heavy drinking to discover that they’ve had a big night, and have no idea what happened. Worse still, they’ve managed to lose a member of their party - this time it’s Teddy (Mason Lee), kid brother of Stu’s fiance Lauren. The race is on to locate Teddy before the wedding.

There are a number of funny jokes spread throughout the movie, with most of them focussed on the drug-dealing monkey you can see in the above poster art. In fact, easily the best gag of the entire movie comes when we discover the true identity of the prostitute Stu had sex with the night before. The jokes are all good verbal gags, but the problem with The Hangover Part II is that it doesn’t matter how many good jokes there are in isolation, the film just stinks of “been there, done that” mentality. It honestly would have been nice if the format of the film had been tweaked a bit more, just to make things feel a bit more original. But when you even have the characters themselves commenting on how this is the same as what happened last time, you know you’re in a bit of trouble. But then given how much money the film has made at the box office, maybe you don’t need originality?

The cast are uniformly excellent, and are a big reason why both films worked in the first place. Ed Helms was my personal favourite, but then I am a huge fan of his work in the US version of The Office. Zach Galifianakis is once again very funny as Alan, even if he once again is the direct reason why the guys have no idea what happened the night before (including the same cause from the original movie). Ken Jeong as Chow returns from the first film, and once again manages to push forward the notion of gay Asian stereotypes to a new high (sometimes funny, sometimes grating).

Overall, I have to say that The Hangover Part II is nowhere near as fun and engaging as the first film. This is mostly down to the complete lack of originality that helped sell the first installment. I never thought I’d say it, but even a chain-smoking drug-dealing monkey can’t make a bad film good.

Article originally appeared on The Sunday Talk (
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