Back in 2009, a small R-rated comedy came out that the studio had very little belief in. They put it out against heavy competition and hoped for the best. Little did they know the movie would blow up to be the huge hundred million dollar hit that it became, and considered by some an instant classic. With a reaction like that, the studio saw the movie as franchise potential, and greenlit a sequel almost immediately. Two years later, almost to the weekend, Warner Bros., Todd Phillips, and the cast of the original, have released their second entry in the Hangover series onto the masses to mixed results.
Two years after the Vegas incident, Stu (Ed Helms) is getting married. For real this time. The wedding is set to be in Thailand, and Stu's rules are simple: No party, no drinking, and no Alan (Zach Galifianakis). Phil (Bradley Cooper) and Doug (Justin Bartha) try and comply, but when Alan get's whiff of the impending wedding, he's heartbroken he's not invited. After much hesitation, Stu relents and invites Alan to come along. After the rehersal dinner, the Wolf Pack goes out onto the beach to have one beer before Stu ties the knot. But things don't go as planned and they wake up inside a dingy hotel room in the middle of Bangkok with no recollection of what transpired the night before, with varying repercussions.
If that above sounds eerily similar to the first, then you'd be correct. The Hangover Part 2 is almost point by point the same movie, taken to a new extreme. And that's not necessarily for the better. The film is really a mixed bag of the original jokes with a few new things, but not enough that you feel like your watching a different movie. The first twenty minutes, before the trip to Thailand were great because it felt new and fresh. Lots of great jokes, and it was all well played. But once they blackout, it's like the movie went to auto pilot and just began copying the first film. It was like the filmmakers knew what people loved about the first, they tried to replicate here. But lightining doesn't always strike twice, as is apparent here.
I feel like the studio should have taken their time on this sequel, instead of setting a date and rushing forward with it. If they had taken their time with it, maybe we would have a sequel worthy of the original. Unfortunately that isn't the case. Instead of being clever, the movie seems to to go for extremes to get reactions, and it doesn't really work. In the first movie, the situation seemed like something that could happen and it all felt real. This one it just feels over the top, unneeded, and like its trying too hard. But when you have them stealing an animal again, losing someone again, and using much of the same dialogue from the first movie over again, you know something is wrong.
None of this is a knock at the cast, who once again knock it out of the park and elevated what really is a very mediocore movie. Once again, Bradley Cooper and Ed Helms steal the show as Phil and Stu, respectively. The two of them are just great at the reactions to the situations at hand and are fun to watch together. Zach Galifianakis is also good as Alan, but I'm convinced he can't play more than one character. He was the exact same character in Due Date and Dinner for Schmucks and it's starting to wear thin. If he ever shows any growth as an actor, I'll be very pleased and impressed. Justin Bartha is incredibly underused as Doug, which is a real shame because he's a great actor. I was actually hoping they would give Doug something to do this time around, but they wasted his character. Honestly, if he had been out on their crazy night with them it would have made the movie much better.
Todd Phillips direction is just fine as well, as he keeps the movies look and feel as close to the first as possible. I really wish he had worked harder to seperate this movie from the first though, because he is part of the creative mind behind it. I usually enjoy his movies. Old School is a comedy classic to me and I was one of the few who loved Due Date last year. I just wish he had injected this movie with more new, or a new scenerio featuring the characters so that it just didn't feel like such a money grabbing retread. He did show that he is good at shooting action though, because there is a great chase scene about halfway through the movie that was really well done and is one of the movies highlights. Another nice little touch was the Johnny Cash song he chose for the scene when they wake up in the hotel room. It worked incredibly well setting up that whole scene and setting the tone.
Overall, I find The Hangover Part 2 to be a disappointingly mediocore retread of the first film. The cast help elevate the movie to be entertaining, but there isn't much they can do to make the whole film just feel anything more than a cash grab by the studio. If the rumors of a third movie are true, I really hope that they try to do something different and take the series in a new direction. They barely get a pass from me for this movie, if a third movie does another retread then the series is done. If you enjoyed the first, you'll find parts of the second enjoyable. The movie itself isn't bad, it's just disappointing. And there's nothing worse than a movie being disappointing.