Two summers ago, The Hangover was released in theaters and took the movie world by storm with its raunchy, in-your-face humor and WTF moments. It was an R-rated comedy but also a mystery, which kept moviegoers laughing while also trying to piece the puzzle together. The cast was also a unique blend of characters featuring Ed Helms from The Office, Bradley Cooper, at the time, probably best known for being the villain in Wedding Crashers, and Zach Galifianakis. With the Hangover Part 2 being released, the question many people were asking was: Is it funnier than the original? Hype can be a dangerous thing because it leads to high expectations and hopes. With the first Hangover, no one really knew what to expect, which made the whole experience that much more enjoyable.
This time, the nerdy dentist Stu is getting married in Thailand to the beautiful Lauren, played by Jamie Chung. Still having nightmares and issues from the previous time they had a bachelor party, Stu just wants a simple brunch at IHOP. Phil, the party animal, is disappointed with this news and tries to coax Stu into something more exciting and dangerous. Alan, the lovable disaster, is thrilled beyond belief that his wolf pack is getting back together. At first, Stu wants nothing to do with Alan at his wedding after what he put them through in the previous film. After some persuading from Doug, Justin Bartha, he agrees to let Alan come along for the ride.
Lauren tells Stu it’s OK to just have a couple of beers with his buddies and also encourages him to bring along her brother Teddy, a mild-mannered and very intelligent young student. Of course, a couple of beers leads to them waking up in Bangkok not knowing how they got there or why Stu has a Mike Tyson tattoo on his face and Alan’s head is shaved. After a while, we start to learn a little bit more and other characters are introduced, such as a mobster played by Paul Giamatti and a tattoo artist played by Nick Cassavetes. The deadly but quite comical gangster Mr. Chow, played by Ken Jeong, also returns for this film, and he’s as crazy as ever. While some new characters and a new setting are introduced in Hangover Part 2, it’s basically the same story as the first one with a few minor tweaks here and there.
At the end of the day, there are not a lot of differences to report from the first film to the second film. We know what to expect this time, so it does ruin the element of surprise. The first Hangover, for me, was a movie that I liked but didn’t love. I tend to fall in the same category with this movie. I liked it, but I didn’t love it. It’s funny, but it’s not fall out of your chair funny. The characters are developed a little bit more this time because we know them from the first film. We know them, like them, and ultimately care about them at the end of the day. The actors seem more in touch with their characters as well, and by now, they are such a big part of pop culture. When the film works or succeeds, it’s because of the characters, not so much the situations they are put in throughout the course of the film.
If you are looking for originality, you have come to the wrong movie. Some critics have called this movie a remake of the first film and you would be hard-pressed to disagree. Instead of a tiger, we get a monkey. Instead of a missing tooth, we get a missing finger. Instead of Doug getting married, it’s Stu getting married. Instead of Alan having a baby, he carries around a monkey. At the end of the day, the laughs are consistent enough to recommend that you see it. Plus, as I mentioned, these guys are so unique when they are put together you can’t help but laugh at their timing and their interactions. It’s not a movie you should rush out to see. It might even be just a DVD rental. If you liked the first film, however, you will not be disappointed with the second one. If you were indifferent about the first movie or thought it was just OK, you will most likely have the same reaction to the Hangover Part 2. This is yet another movie where men behave badly and get humiliated and embarrassed because of it. It’s funny, as long as it’s not happening to you.
How should you see it: See it for a cheaper price in the afternoon or wait for the DVD to come out.