The Wolfpack has another wild night and awakes with another set of problems — this time in Bangkok — in The Hangover Part II, a sequel that is exactly what you think it’s going to be.
Doug (Justin Bartha), the lost groom from the first movie, is now happily married to a wife who appears to be pregnant. Alan (Zach Galifianakis) is still a man-child living with his parents. Phil (Bradley Cooper) is still a bored married guy looking for crazy action wherever he can get it. And thus he attempts to pressure Stu (Ed Helms), engaged to Lauren (Jamie Chung) and about to be married in Thailand, to have a real bachelor party.
But Stu wants none of the craziness that happened in Vegas during Doug’s bachelor party, informing Phil and Doug that not only is their brunch at IHOP the extent of his bachelor party but also Alan isn’t invited to Thailand. Because Alan is now Doug’s brother-in-law, however, and is fixated on reuniting with Phil and Stu — the Wolfpack as he calls them — Doug needles Stu into inviting him.
On the flight over to Thailand, Alan develops a weird, one-sided rivalry with Teddy (Mason Lee), the 16-year-old pre-med-at-Stanford younger brother of Lauren. Then the guys get together for one little drink at the resort. Naturally, one drink somehow leads to a rough morning when Stu, Alan and Phil wake up to find themselves in a seedy hotel in Bangkok with a monkey, a finger and Mr. Chow (Ken Jeong), the gangster from Las Vegas whom Alan has since befriended. Not there is Doug — which is fine. He is back at the resort and able to make excuses for the guys as they try to regroup. Also not there in the morning is Teddy. But he isn’t at the resort either. And the ring on the finger they find suggests that he might be missing something, wherever he is.
So we get the hunt. There’s the seedy hotel (they check the roof first this time), then a police precinct, also a bar, a tattoo parlor (Stu made some poor choices while intoxicated), a bar that’s been burned down, a strip club, a meeting with a shady character named Mr. Kingsley (Paul Giamatti) and a car chase through the streets of Bangkok. Along the way, we learn that the monkey can smoke and that when monks take a vow of silence, they really mean it.
There are some moments that squeezed a “ha” out of me, some moments of absurdity that were mildly entertaining, a nice cameo in the movie’s final scenes. But mostly, the movie is a big crazy thing, followed by a lot of “oh, bleep!” and “what the bleep just happened?!?” and then another crazy thing and then more swearing, which starts to feel a lot like filler for where actual funny dialogue should go. The movie is big, yes, but it’s not tight. It is well-constructed, but it won’t wow you with story or with the way the comedy is applied.
I’m not sure why this is. If you described any segment of the movie to me I’d think it was funny. And I’ll bet if I saw any given five-minute clip, I’d think that was funny. But as a complete work of, well, if not art then entertainment, this movie, like the first The Hangover, just doesn’t do it for me. Something about the combination of elements, perhaps. I don’t mind the gross-out stuff — I laughed at the bathroom scene in Bridesmaids and like plenty of the juvenile humor in Judd Apatow and Farrelly brothers movies. For whatever reason, this particular bundle of vulgarities, violence and copious swearing — all things I’ve enjoyed in other movies — just leaves me cold.
And the performances? They’re fine, and why wouldn’t they be? Everyone’s a cartoon. Phil is cool guy. Alan is crazy guy and Stu is Ed Helms Variant Dentist. Yes, I enjoyed Ken Jeong’s Mr. Chow (one of those rare “ha”s went to the sight gag that preceded his first appearance) but I never found myself giggling with delight the way I have over his Señor Chang.
As I said, this is more or less exactly the way I felt about the last movie. But oodles of other people loved it.
Freaked out over how much they loved it. So if you love The Hangover, you’ll probably like this one just a few steps less — it doesn’t seem to be built as high or as zanily as the last one. For non-fans, this movie isn’t likely to bring you onto the bandwagon. C
Rated R for pervasive language, strong sexual content including graphic nudity, drug use and brief violent images. Directed by Todd Phillips and written by Craig Mazin, Scot Armstrong and Todd Phillips, The Hangover Part II is an hour and 50 minutes long and distributed in wide release by Warner Brothers.