“It happened again.” That’s the opening gambit of The Hangover: Part II, but sadly the same can be said of the franchise.
When The Hangover made record bucks as the box office a couple of years, it seems I was the only person in the world who didn’t think it was pretty much the greatest comedy ever made. Superlative were thrown in its direction from left, right and centre, but while it had the odd laugh, and the concept was a neat twist on the R-rated comedy, it was certainly no revolution. And so here we are for a second time, and bar director/co-writer Todd Phillips doing a ‘find all, replace’ on “Las Vegas” with ‘Bangkok”, it’s quite literally exactly the same film.
On the eve of Stu’s (Helms) wedding, the boys jet out to Thailand for the big day, only what starts out as a couple of low-key drinks and toasted marshmallows on the beach the night before, soon finds Phil (Cooper), Stu and Alan (Galifianakis) waking in a random hotel in Bangkok, remembering nothing about the night before. That fact the wedding is mere hours away, however, is the least of their worries, as with Stu’s future brother-in-law missing, bar his finger which is found rolling around on the scruffy wooden floor, they must piece together the scraps of memory they still hold, and the clues they find on their person, to retrace their steps and find their way out of another nightmare morning after.
The Hangover did well because there was a sense of fun and excitement to it, but Part II has none of that, instead it’s harsh, offensive and massively mean-spirited. Any sense of originality is gone, the surprise factor is gone and even much of the comedy to Zach Galifianakis’ character is gone; to say The Hangover: Part II feels tired would be an understatement.
The worst thing about this film though is just how lazy it is. Almost a scene for scene remake of the first in the franchise, while it’s more than OK to borrow a few ideas and rehash them in a new narrative, here Phillips simply produces a carbon copy of the same plot. Lost person? Check. Bodily defamation to the groom? Check. Wake up with an animal in the room? Check. Chang gets locked away? Check. I could go on.
Jettisoning the talented duo behind the original, instead Phillips and regular writing partner Scot Armstrong took over the scriptwriting duties, bolstered by another set of hands in Craig Mazin. Their script though is dark in all the wrong ways and while at the time trudges through, upon just a moment of recollection, tells of a very arrogant filmmaker, doing what he likes with a studio lining his pockets.
There are some funny moments, although half the laughs will come out of awkwardness, and for at least half the film, the familiar characters will entertain before their ‘quirks’ very quickly begin to grate, but the negatives to The Hangover: Part II quite overwhelmingly outweigh the positives, it’s just an even bigger shame that Part III is already in the works.