“The Hangover Part II”
Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms, Zach Galifianakis
Directed by Todd Phillips
The Wolfpack is back, but it’s pretty clear that what happened in Vegas should have stayed in Vegas. In what has to be the first major bummer of the summer, “The Hangover Part II” is more than just a crushing disappointment; it’s a slap in the face to just about everyone who embraced the surprise hit original from 2009, which grossed more than $277 million domestically, making it the biggest R-rated comedy of all time.
That’s because this shameless re-hash represents just about everything that’s wrong with Hollywood’s ever-growing reliance on bloated sequels. The budget is bigger (increased from $32 million to $78 million), and the location is more exotic, but the premise is the same – exactly the same: mismatched friends Phil (Bradley Cooper), Stu (Ed Helms) and Alan (Zach Galifianakis) wake up with head-pounding hangovers after a wild night of debauchery, only to find that one of their party is missing. So with the clock ticking away, they race against time to find him and make it back in time for the wedding.
But instead of taking place in Las Vegas, the crazy party takes place in Bangkok. Instead of losing the groom, they lose the bride’s brother. Instead of waking up with a missing tooth, mild-mannered Stu wakes up with a tattoo plastered on his face. Instead of playing guardian to an abandoned baby, eccentric Alan bonds with a drug-dealing, cigarette-smoking monkey. And so it goes. But perhaps the biggest crime of all is how unfunny “The Hangover Part II” is when compared to its gut-busting predecessor. What it basically comes down to is a case of same stuff, different city – but without the humor.
It’s not that returning director Todd Phillips, who co-wrote the screenplay with Craig Mazin and Scot Armstrong, didn’t try. If anything, it’s pretty obvious that the filmmakers tried too hard by pushing the boundaries of tasteless humor while still retaining an “R” rating from the Motion Picture Association of America. As with the first film, the Asian mob boss played by Ken Jeong goes full frontal, but this time his private part gets manhandled (if you’ll pardon the expression) by the aforementioned monkey.
In addition, the spirit is meaner, and the tone is much darker – both of which zap the vibe of what made the original film so much fun in the first place. And where Alan was a lovable loser, now he’s just plain unlikable and lacks any redeeming qualities whatsoever. I could go on about other scenes – like one involving transgender prostitutes – but why bother?
One scene that is worth mentioning is the much talked-about segment that was supposed to have featured Mel Gibson as a tattoo artist. After certain cast and crew members reportedly balked at the prospect of working with Gibson so soon after his now-infamous voicemail tirades hit the airwaves, the cameo was recast with Liam Neeson. But then Neeson’s scene had to be re-shot, and the actor wasn’t available. So Neeson was replaced by Nick Cassavetes, and in the end, the scene isn’t all that funny anyway.
The first “Hangover” caught moviegoers off guard, but now the cat’s out of the bag, and if this is the best that the filmmakers could come up with for the sequel, then I dread the inevitable “Hangover Part III.” Besides, if you really want to see a superior raunchy comedy about friends behaving badly in the hours leading up to a wedding, then see the just-released “Bridesmaids” instead – now, there’s a film that’s smart, filled with heart and funny as hell. As far as the Wolfpack is concerned, maybe these wolves have already had one drink too many.
Verdict: SKIP IT!