If you’re planning to see The Hangover Part II it’s pretty much a definite that you saw, and enjoyed, The Hangover. You liked Alan, the annoying/endearing manchild played by Zach Galifianakis; the ‘what-the-fuck-happened’ morning-after-the-night-before scene; the tiny Chinese gangster; Mike Tyson; the random song from Stu (Ed Helms); the follow-the-clues-plot. It was a good, funny film. Perfect for a hangover, curl up on the couch and comfort yourself that at least you didn’t lose a tooth the night before.
The writers/directors/producers in their wisdom have served up a second helping of what you enjoyed the first time, except with a different location (Bangkok). Every plot point is still there, every joke, every character, they’re all just given a tweak or a polish or a change of clothes. From 20 minutes in you can virtualy map out exactly what’s going to happen next. They’re going to have a fight. Now for the scene where it looks like they’ve found the guy but actually haven’t. Now a rush back to the wedding. It would be like going through a copy of Lord of the Rings with a felt tip pen, changing all the characters and locations then calling it a sequel.
And, because you know what’s coming, an important element of comedy is missing – surprise. And with surprise gone the makers rely on the element of shock, which sounds the same but isn’t. It’s doing the same thing as before but just a bit more extreme, a bit grosser. Instead of losing a tooth Stu gets a tattoo on his face. Instead of marrying a stripper he… well it’s set in Bangkok, try and guess..
Of course there are good moments, the first film worked because the central trio bounced off each other so well and that dynamic is retained here. Alan has some great lines, Stu gives the film something of a heart. However Phil (Bradley Cooper) crosses the line from being charming but arrogant to just being plain arrogant. The highlights are the couple of occasions (and there are only a couple) when things are done a bit differently. Alan’s flashback to the previous day’s events, in particular, is a treat.
Is this a film to sit alongside the original? No. It has its moments but just lacks a spark. Watch it on DVD and you’ll enjoy it, mainly because you’ll probably be hungover.
By Kevin Donnellan.