The Hangover Sequel Steps Up the Raunchiness, Loses Some Laughs

The Hangover Part II is an unnecessary experience, but the same could be said for most sequels. If you’ve seen the 2009 original, about three guys who wake up from having blacked out during a Las Vegas bachelor party and have to retrace their forgotten steps to locate a missing friend, then you’ve already seen this movie.

The setting is now Bangkok, but almost everything that happens to Phil (Bradley Cooper), Stu (Ed Helms), and Alan (Zach Galifianakis) is a self-conscious echo of their previous debauched adventure. For instance, they woke up with a tiger in their hotel room in Vegas. This time there’s a monkey. The impending nuptials are for Stu, rather than Doug (Justin Bartha). And while Doug doesn’t go missing, they’re desperately trying to find the bride’s 16-year-old brother, Teddy (Mason Lee).

Because this is a sequel, the writers and director apparently felt the need to kick everything up a notch. Instead of missing a tooth after their lost evening, Stu has a large Mike Tyson-style face tattoo. Rather than discovering that he married a prostitute while drunk, Stu finds out that … well, I’d really rather not go into it. My psyche is still recovering.

I laughed a lot at the first Hangover, and not as much as I’d hoped at Part II. The film asks the pure shock factor of its bawdier elements to do too much of the heavy lifting. Some other moments, as when a Buddhist monk mercilessly beats the guys with a staff when they won’t stop talking, don’t even play like jokes.

The usually funny Ken Jeong reprises his role as Mr. Chow, a fun-loving crime lord they first encountered in Vegas, but he’s not given much to do. Ed Helms’ Stu sings midway through the action about their predicament but it’s a pale retread of his song in the original. The only character I enjoyed even more this time around was the idiot man-child Alan, whose absurd lines of dialogue (sparked by Galifianakis’ brilliant and fiercely sincere delivery) are the comic highlights.

Still, I like these guys. It’s fun to spend a couple hours with them. I wouldn’t mind another, better sequel. Here’s hoping it’s about the night before Alan’s wedding.

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