You’re probably familiar with the sentiment “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” a colloquial expression, meaning that if you’ve found a proven formula for success, don’t mess with it. Usually when a sequel is made of a popular movie, this idea is employed by the filmmakers to some degree, so that they do not risk alienating their fans. No film in recent memory though, keeps this thought as close to the forefront as Todd Philips’ raunchy comedy “The Hangover: Part II.”
This sequel, to the 2009 hit about a bachelor party in Vegas gone awry, literally follows the same exact narrative structure as its predecessor from start to finish. The most critical difference between this film and the last one is merely the setting: Bangkok, Thailand. Otherwise, Philips presents the story in an identical layout.
Philips opens on peaceful wedding preparations the day of the ceremony, where Phil (Bradley Cooper) makes a frantic call to the bridal party. Phil informs them that the ceremony is not likely to go as scheduled, because the gang is missing one of the key members of the wedding party. Then Philips flashes back to several days earlier, where we learn Stu (Ed Helms) will be getting married in Thailand.
In an attempt to avoid the nightmarish bachelor party experience he had in Vegas, Stu tries to get away with having a quiet brunch with just Doug (Justin Bartha) and Phil. He is so paranoid of shenanigans at his wedding that he has decided not to invite Alan (Zach Galifianakis) to be part of the celebration. Though after enough goading from Doug, Stu eventually caves and allows Alan to join them.
The Wolfpack jets to Thailand, where they arrive at their hotel and participate in a hilariously awkward dinner with Stu’s future wife’s family. After the traumatic experience, Stu is ready to turn in for a quiet night, but his fiancé insists that he join his pals for a drink and that he take her little brother Teddy with him. As the friends enjoy a beer, Philips fades to black in now trademark fashion, and cuts to them awaking groggily the next morning in a seedy Bangkok hotel, with no recollection of the previous night’s debauchery.
They make a number of ghastly discoveries, as they walk around their trashed room; the most startling of which, is that Teddy is missing. Just like in “The Hangover,” the men must frantically piece together whatever clues that they can, and brave numerous obstacles, in order to get everyone back in time for the wedding.
Given that the film is written by completely new scribes Craig Mazin and Scot Armstrong, with assistance from Todd Philips, it’s surprising that “The Hangover Part II” bears such a striking resemblance to the first one. The fact that they do not deviate at all from the same formula is disappointing because “The Hangover” felt so groundbreaking, that a sequel seemed to warrant further trailblazing.
Despite the obvious similarities to its predecessor, “The Hangover Part II” still possesses hilarity on par with the first film, placing the Wolfpack in some insanely comical situations, which are further magnified by their presence in a foreign country. What differentiates it slightly is that it embraces Zach Galifianakis’ zany character Alan more for humor, and the ridiculous gangster Mr. Chow (Ken Jeong) plays a larger role, this time as their ally. If you loved “The Hangover,” you might be a bit letdown that Todd Philips does not change a great deal in this sequel, but you’ll still laugh a lot.
My Grade: B+