When Phil (Bradley Cooper) calls a very distressed Tracy at the beginning of The Hangover Part II, you know exactly where Todd Phillip's latest round-up with Cooper, Ed Helms and Zach Galifinakis is going. Initially, the thought process of the viewer goes from shock, confusion, anger and then finally complacency. Are they going to remake The Hangover shot for shot?
The problem with the sequel to the very successful 2009 comedy is that it really isn't a film, it's an exercise of cynicism in show business. Warner Brothers had 277,322,503 reasons to make a sequel, yet they may have gone a bit overboard in recreating what they had with the first film.
Todd Phillip's sequel is structurally the same as its predecessor —the hijinks are justly ratcheted up several notches— but the draw of The Hangover Part II wasn't originality, the draw was hanging out with Phil, Stu and Alan for another crazy ride. It is understandable that Warner Bros. greenlit a sequel because the original was so successful financially, but this is borderline offensive to audience sensibilities.
Thankfully, some of the repetition can be forgotten because all three leads have grown into their own and the script gives them plenty of room to breathe comically. Fortunately for Doug (Justin Bartha), he is given more to do than just sit on a hotel roof, Stu's future brother-in-law Teddy (Mason Lee, who could use some seasoning) gets to suffer that indignity this time.
What makes the whole situation worse for the group is they all could have avoided this if Stu had just been given his bachelor party at IHOP, like he wanted. Given that these boys will boys, we all know what will happen instead.
Bangkok makes for an excellent locale for a movie that needs something to sustain itself after trashing Vegas and the sometimes beautiful, but always dangerous city obliges. Scenes you wouldn't think would make it past an MPAA board are flaunted right in your face. Around every corner lies countless dangers, drug-dealing monkeys, tattoo parlors and occasionally a very pissed off Paul Giamatti. Mr. Chow is also available for a second go around (Ken Jeong is a brave, brave man).
Despite the carbon copy nature of plot, laughs are still had, though they are few. I don’t know where Phillips and co. are heading for the inevitable sequel, but maybe we could avoid letting Alan handle the food next time and take some ginseng for memory?