To start off this movie review in the same way that countless others have, the wolf pack is back in The Hangover Part II! This go-around, Phil, Stu and Alan wake up in Bangkok, shaved, tattooed and missing Stu's soon-to-be brother-in-law. The expected hijinks ensue - and by "expected" I mean exactly the same - but The Hangover Part II is still an entertaining, albeit not nearly as funny follow-up to the hit comedy.
Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms, Zach Galifianakis and director Todd Phillips have returned for this second installment, which, despite the shocking success of the original, no one was really asking for. Justin Bartha is also back, but the poor bastard still has little to do. By design, the sequel is practically forced to replicate the first film, a curse the franchise will struggle to break if it wants to continue cranking out sequels.
The first Hangover succeeded not just because it was funny but because it was unpredictable. No one knew what would happen next or how the guys would escape their predicament. This go-around, new screenwriters Craig Mazin (Scary Movie 3) and Scot Armstrong (Old School) are confined by this same, now-predictable formula, and it shows. The element of surprise is gone, leaving the characters only to escape one zany situation after another.
The Hangover Part II is still entertaining. There are several funny scenes. Several disturbing moments as well. Even if the course of events are predictable, it's still fun to see what the writers have come up with, what the characters have gotten themselves into.
Given Part II's massive weekend opening , it would be surprising if Warner Bros. isn't already contemplating a second sequel. If they proceed, they should learn from the flaws of this film. The formula needs to be mixed up, if only just slightly. Justin Bartha should be given more to do. The new supporting characters should be more interesting (Paul Giamatti, Mason Lee and others add little to the equation). And the writers shouldn't rely on tired gags just because they worked in the past (Ken Jeong's increased presence is amusing but runs its course well before his final scene, and Mike Tyson's cameo isn't nearly as clever as it was in the first one).
The Hangover Part II feels forced and lazy at times, and yet there are enough funny and insane moments to keep the audience engaged. It isn't perfect, and isn't nearly as hilarious as the first movie, but The Hangover Part II is an adequate follow-up. Just make sure to see it before the crowds die away; it's always better to watch comedies in a crowded theater.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.
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