Been There, Drank That
Unnecessary sequel rips off—but can’t top—the original
The Hangover Part II
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
Rated R/102 min.
Two years after the “Wolf Pack”—played again by Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms, Justin Bartha and Zach Galifinakis—tore up Las Vegas, then couldn’t remember what they tore, here comes the follow-up. It’s set in Thailand, but mostly it feels like the exact same movie.
I didn’t fall for the original as hard as some, but it packed a few raunchy laughs and legitimate surprises. The sequel, meanwhile, starts off well, peaks about an hour in and then coasts to a letdown of a finish.
The bigger-is-better approach is obvious from the start—the locations are gorgeous, the stakes are higher and the shock factor has been cranked. The initial scene with the pack waking up and realizing the trouble they’re in has the edginess of a thriller, not surprising considering director Todd Phillips’s gift for dark comedy.
Cooper, simultaneously despicable and utterly charming, is still the glue that holds the pack—and the movie—together. Helms and Galifianakis go for broke and score occasionally by milking their characters’ growing desperation. As in the first film, Bartha, who is an able comic actor, is stuck on the sidelines.
At one point, Mel Gibson, Liam Neeson and Bill Clinton were all supposedly lined up for cameos. None appear, and the film is actually poorer for it—after getting Mike Tyson to sing Phil Collins “In The Air Tonight” in the original, the filmmakers needed to one-up themselves. Despite all the noise, they don’t.
The biggest jaw-dropper comes at a Thai strip club (where else?) but nothing here is as nutty or inventively funny as the footage of Tyson’s tiger being abducted in the first movie. The sequel does recycle plenty of the original’s jokes (the end-credit photo montage, a major highlight the first time around, feels especially forced). Which begs the question: why not stay home, save a few bucks and watch The Hangover? ■