Film Review – The Hangover Part II

The Hangover Part II (MA)

Directed by: Todd Phillips

Starring: Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms, Zach Galifianakis, Justin Bartha

Three stars

Review by Julian Wright

“I can’t believe this is happening again!” screams one of the Wolfpack after waking up hungover in a dump of a hotel room in a foreign city with a half-naked Asian man on the floor, a cut off finger on ice and an energetic monkey. No-one else shares his surprise. After The Hangover stormed the box office in 2009 (it made more than $270 million in the US alone) with its fresh spin on the bro-mance comedy routine, a sequel was inevitable.

The winning formula of the original allowed for constant surprises rarely seen in comedies, a likeable bunch of blokes and a high laugh quotient. Not to mention a storyline that most people anyone over the legal drinking age of 18 can relate  to – spotty memory after a big night out and retracing steps to fill in the blanks.

So what does the sequel do with this successful formula? It puts it to use all over again. Sticking close to the rule if ain’t broke, don’t fix it, The Hangover Part II emulates its predecessor down to specific details. The result is plenty of outrageous laughs but precious few surprises.

Stu (Ed Helms) is a week away from marrying Lauren (Jamie Chung) in Thailand and after his Las Vegas experience a couple of years ago, he wants a low-key bachelor party. Well, not so much a party as a bachelor brunch. He gets his wish after much argument from Phil (Bradley Cooper), who wants Stu to go out with a bang.

The pair begrudgingly pick up Alan (Zach Galifianakis) for the trip overseas who is immediately threatened by the company of Lauren’s 16-year-old brother Teddy (Mason Lee). They guys are soon in Thailand for a relaxed few days before the wedding. After an innocent single beer around a bonfire, the group wake up in the aforementioned hotel, Stu has a facial tattoo and Teddy is missing.

Another mystery is kickstarted. Stu, Alan and Phil have to piece together the chain of events of the night before that lead to their current predicament so they can find Teddy and make it back in time for the wedding. Their journey leads them to a handful of wacky characters and the occasional high-speed chase and shoot out.

One thing is for sure, these blokes know how to have a good time. One of the appealing things about these movies is the refreshing casting – these guys are in their 30s (some of them perhaps pushing 40) and they are still going hard. This style of comedy is usually reserved for younger actors. The laughs are consistent but there is a distinct feeling of deja vu that hangs over The Hangover part II.

Having toyed with storytelling conventions in the first one, this sequel could have been more daring but this sticks closely to the familiar. The revelations are decidedly less interesting this time around with shocking moments sprinkled throughout failing to make for an overall compelling story. This Hangover is as lethargic as its characters the morning after a big night.

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