The Hangover Part II * * *

Genre: Comedy

Director: Todd Philips

Writers: Craig Mazin, Scott Armstrong and Todd Philips

Cast: Bradley Cooper, Zach Galiafinakis, Ed Helms, Justin Bartha, Ken Jeong

Running Length: 102 minutes

Synopsis: The Hangover Part II is director Todd Phillips’ follow-up to 2009’s smash hit The Hangover, which became the highest-grossing R-rated comedy of all-time and also won the Golden Globe for Best Film – Comedy or Musical. Reprising their roles from The Hangover, Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms, Zach Galifianakis, and Justin Bartha star in the film. In the sequel, Phil (Bradley Cooper), Stu (Ed Helms), Alan (Zach Galifianakis) and Doug (Justin Bartha) travel to exotic Thailand for Stu’s wedding. After the unforgettable bachelor party in Las Vegas, Stu is taking no chances and has opted for a safe, subdued pre-wedding brunch. However, things don’t always go as planned. What happens in Vegas may stay in Vegas, but what happens in Bangkok can’t even be imagined…

Review: Nobody expected The Hangover to do as well as it did when it was released in 2009, and it eventually became the highest grossing R-rated comedy of all time. This is obviously the biggest reason why The Hangover Part II is seeing light of day this year, but can lightning strike twice? The answer, unsurprisingly, is both yes and no. While The Hangover Part II is very entertaining, it’s almost an identical rehash of The Hangover despite the change in locale, and lacking the element of surprise the sequel just feels less inspired than its predecessor.

Todd Philips and his creative team obviously decided to justify the existence of this sequel by upping the ante, but this is a ploy that works unevenly. Everything is bigger – the setup of the gags, the stakes, and even the (somewhat pointless) action – but the whole is less than the sum of its parts. And that really is the biggest weakness of the film, likely to overlooked by most audiences since the cinematic experience remains pretty much on par with that of its predecessor.

There are still plenty of things to like about The Hangover Part II despite this. The politically incorrect and crude humour can still be very funny, even if it gets a little forced at times. It may not be a laugh a minute, but it does come pretty close. The central mystery is still intriguing despite being extremely far-fetched, and the denouement is pretty satisfactory, even if it seems a bit rushed. And like the first film, the end credit photo montage packs some of the best visual gags in the movie.  

It is undeniable that the leads are very flawed and yet very likeable characters, and the chemistry between the actors have only grown stronger in the sequel. Much as they are in a totally improbable situation, the audience is always rooting for the group to solve the mystery and ride off into the sunset. And this is essentially why The Hangover Part II will be a box office success – even though the proceedings are a bit old-hat, there will be enough empathy/sympathy with these characters that most audiences will be very forgiving. One wonders, however, if audiences would be as forgiving the third inevitable time around.  

Rating: * * * (out of four stars)

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