Review: The Hangover, part II

Sequels are no strange thing to anyone who has even a passing interest in movies. It’s no surprise nowadays that when a movie makes money at the box office at least one sequel is inevitable, they’re big business, and plenty of us will gladly return to visit with the same characters for further adventures.

This year the number of sequels is something of a record, and as we are now entering into summer, most of them are big budget blockbusters, almost one a week for the next couple of months, these include: X-Men: First Class, Harry Potter & The Deathly Hallows (Part 2), Transformers: Dark of the moon, Kung Fu Panda 2 and Cars 2.

The motivation to make the movie, obviously, is the chance of profit. But the problem with sequels – especially big budget sequels – is that they are usually made on a rushed timetable, with a poor or incomplete script, with actors who may not want to return but are tied in due to a contractual clause from the first movie, so may not give it their all. They are usually inferior in one or more ways and struggle to live up to any hype built up since the last one (though sometimes they do shoot themselves in the foot by giving it all away in the trailers). Hollywood in particular seems to follow one rule to attempt to overcome this:

‘Bigger is better’.

This usually takes form as a bigger budget and by attempting to push the boundaries of anything the previous movie(s) have done – the Hangover, Part II, is no exception to this.

The main cast (with the exception of Heather Graham, sadly) return, and as with the first movie, the setup revolves around a bachelor party before one of their number is due to marry days later. This time Stu (Ed Helms) is the one tying the knot, and once he (grudgingly) agrees to allow Alan (Zach Galifianakis) to join them, the wolf-pack is re-assembled. The bride’s parents are from Thailand, so all involved fly out there for the wedding.

A couple of nights before the big day, along with Stu’s future brother in law Teddy (Mason Lee), the wolf-pack have a campfire drink on the beach – from sealed bottles – intent on avoiding a repeat performance of the previous shenanigans. Inevitably, they wake up the following morning, in a hotel room in Bangkok with no memory of the previous night, and with Teddy nowhere to be seen. The race is on to figure out what happened in order to find him and get back in time for the wedding.

Sounds pretty similar to the original movie’s setup, no?

Well, that’s unfortunately not where the similarities end. The Hangover, part II suffers from one of the worst problems that sequels have – copying the original movie. Yes, to a certain degree it was to be expected, but I don’t think I’ve seen a sequel before that comes so close to being like the original in structure and plotting that the only word for it is ‘cloning’. Forget Dolly, Hangover is the new example.

That’s not to say that it’s a bad film, just wholly unoriginal and at times downright crass. The audience in the sold-out theatre I watched it with seemed to laugh thoroughly throughout the movie, as did I, but at certain points, when I wanted a mite of originality, some unexpected plotting, and some clever comedy, I instead found myself wondering how they could be so lazy.

I’m not surprised that they brought back Leslie Chow(Ken Jeong), after all, Jeong was a very memorable comedic element in the first movie, but he could have been in the movie for about half the amount of time and it would have been a funnier cameo, Mike Tyson is back, but why on earth they had him in his cameo and not decide to go for someone else who would have been a more worthy comedy cameo? and they brought back the same actor playing the part of a strip club owner who previously was the owner of the wedding chapel in the first movie – did they think we would not notice he’s the same guy?

The tiger in the bathroom has now been replaced with a chain smoking, drug dealing capuchin monkey, missing Doug is now missing Teddy (while Doug is at the wedding resort with the wives – why could they not have had him there with the guys for all the ‘fun’?), the group finds ‘Teddy’ but it turns out it’s not Teddy, gets involved with a nefarious businessman who says he has their guy only for us to find out he was lying, and at the eleventh hour, just as they are about to give up and confess they’ve no idea where to find their missing number, they work it out. The only moment I can genuinely say I was surprised they did something was when they remembered what happened with Doug last time and decided to immediately check the roof. Oh, and at one point everything slows down for Stu to sing a little song about their predicament.

The movie relies too many times on shock humour instead of genuine setup and pay off down the line, the end credit photos are a prime example of this, instead of having genuinely funny images detailing moments of the crazy night, relying on shock images that while they result in a laugh, feels for all the wrong reasons.

If you liked the first movie you’ll probably enjoy this one as well, but nowhere near as much. Word is now being spread around about a potential third part being made since this one has had a massive opening weekend and is likely to end up being (financially) the most successful adult comedy ever made. If a third is made, I hope they bring in some new writers to help liven up the story a little bit and come up with some original ideas.

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