THE HANGOVER PART II (2011)
Running Time: 102 mins. Rating: 2 Stars/5 Stars
MPAA Rating: R
Director: Todd Phillips
Cast: Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms, Zach Galifianakas, Justin Bartha, Ken Jeong, Paul Giamatti, Mike Tyson, Jeffrey Tambor, Jamie Chung, Nick Cassavetes
2009’s THE HANGOVER, a film about the misbegotten adventures of four guys in the midst of a bachelor’s party weekend in Las Vegas, set a box office records for most gross receipts for an R-rated comedy. The relatively low budget film made stars out of the three leads: Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms, and Zach Galifianakis.
It didn’t take a genius to figure out that Warner Brothers would find a way to green light a sequel that would be released to kick off the lucrative summer season. The result is THE HANGOVER PART II, a textbook example of how to make a risk adverse sequel that may make the Warners’ accounting department happy but it is a disappointment artistically.
“It’s happened again!” laments Phil (Bradley Cooper) in a cell phone call to his wife in the film’s opening scene. For those who missed THE HANGOVER, the plot dealt with four guys who wake up in a trashed Las Vegas hotel room and can’t remember any of the events of the preceding 24 hours. This time the guys wake up in a seedy Bangkok hotel with no recollections of how they got there.
The filmmakers quickly backtrack to a week earlier where we learn that uptight dentist; Stu (Ed Helms) has ditched his harpy ex-girlfriend and is about to marry his new love, Lauren (Jamie Chung), at a seaside resort in her native Thailand. The road trip gives Stu a chance to round up the guys for another round of hijinks.
We are reintroduced to handsome, suave Phil, man-child Alan (Zach Galifianakis), and easy-going Doug (Justin Bartha who has surprisingly and disappointingly little to do here). Galifianakis, as is his wont, can break up an audience with a blank stare and he does get off some good one-liners.
Also returning from the first flick is Ken Jeong as Mr. Chow. Whereas in the first film Chow was a dangerous villain with a short temper, here he is basically a comedic character who has made himself “one of the boys” with Stu, Phil and Alan. Jeong has earned raves for his offbeat role as Chang, an erstwhile Spanish professor on NBC’s hit comedy, ‘Community,’ and it is clear that director Todd Phillips wanted to leverage his comedic talents. In real life, Ken Jeong is a medical school graduate who gave up being a physician for a successful showbiz career.
The only major new name on board is Paul Giamatti who plays an underworld crime boss named Kingsley (I am not sure if that is a tip of the hat to the Academy Award-winning actor Ben Kingsley or to uber-publicist/Hollywood mover and shaker Patricia Kingsley) who sadly has minimal screen time.
Yes, there are some belly laughs to be had in PART II thanks to Alan’s antics and a wedding rehearsal dinner in which Stu’s future father-in-law hurls one insult after another at the man who is about to marry his daughter. A capuchin monkey who wears a tiny jacket with the Rolling Stones famous lips logo steals numerous scenes.
Unfortunately, too much of the 102-minute plot is a rehash of chase scenes and being in the wrong place at the wrong time gimmicks that we saw all too often two years ago.
Mike Tyson, who had a memorable cameo in the original, is called upon to sing a rendition of the 1980s Murray Head hit, ‘One Night in Bangkok,’ from the former Broadway show, ‘Chess,’ that was written by male half of ABBA. It’s not as funny as it sounds.
Incidentally, Victor Whitmill, the tattoo artist who is responsible for Mike Tyson’s facial artwork is suing Warner Brothers for using its likeness on Ed Helms in the film. My guess is that it’s a publicity stunt for both of them.
It is understandable if you feel hung over from the sense that you have watched this film before.
If you like this recommendations: The Hangover, Bridesmaids, Superbad