The Hangover Part II

I suspected that I wouldn’t enjoy the return of the Wolf Pack as much asthe first time. I wasn’t expecting to be this disappointed.  Todd Phillips has a troubled history with me, especially after his last film starring Robert Downey Jr., and Zack Galifianakis, Due Date. It was a slightly offensive, not very funny film that didn’t so much push the boundaries of good taste, but cross them.  It almost seemed like a rejection of the mainstream success he had with The Hangover.  Phillips, who wrote the script with Craig Mazin (Scary Movie 3 and 4), and Scot Armstrong (Semi-Pro, Starsky & Hutch) seems to have attempted to mix the two styles in what ultimately came out deformed and lifeless.

The script’s the same as the first, although Las Vegas has been traded for a much darker and more ominous Thailand setting (expectedly, Galifianakis’s character Alan pronounces it ‘Thigh-land).  Stu (Ed Helms) is marrying a beautiful Thai-American girl in her parents’ homeland and he brings along his best friends to celebrate the big day.  Those familiar with the first film’s plot will wonder why Alan is even at the wedding.  His presence is proof of the lack of logic in the film, as he has nothing to do with the wedding party.  Looking past this, there’s a drunken, drug-filled night where Stu’s  soon-to-be-brother-in-law (who’s only sixteen), goes missing and there’s a familiar race around Bangkok slowly giving our heroes clues about what exactly happened the night before.  It’s all very outrageous.

Why Phillips didn’t make an effort to come up with a new story can be read as laziness.  Especially when considering the humor that fills the film.  The story takes its time getting started, but once the shenanigans get going, it’s immediately apparent that this is going to be a much darker story (a severed finger and an additional dead body is involved).  The filmmakers went about doing this by taking the jokes of the first film, and systematically making them even more awkward and obscene; there is a scene where Bradley Cooper’s character, along with Alan and Stu spend a good deal of time staring at Ken Jeong’s –a truly bad choice for a recurring role–micro-penis, trying to figure out what it is (the rest of his body is concealed).

There are some laugh-out-loud moments in the film, this can’t be denied.  But these are few and far between the additions of a drug-dealing monkey, transsexual nudity, stereotypical Russian gangsters, and plenty of semen jokes.  Even the biggest fans of the first film can’t be guaranteed they’ll enjoy Part II.  It’s disappointing that the film’s expected box office haul can probably ensure a third in the series, one from which we can expect even more diminishing returns.

★★☆☆

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