The Hangover Part II is the inevitable sequel to a film, which proved that comedies that were unfunny, unlikeable and thoroughly boring could be both commercial and critical hits. This one proves that they can have equally unfunny, unlikeable and thoroughly boring sequels.
The film picks up two years after the events of the first film, with Stu (Ed Helms) preparing to fly over to Thailand for his wedding. Along comes Phil (Bradley Cooper) and, to everyone’s dismay, Alan (Zack Galifianakis). Finally, they all wake up in a sleazy hotel room in inner city Bangkok with someone missing and a wedding to get to.
One of the main problems with The Hangover Part II is that it follows the exact structure of the first one, almost scene by scene, making it about as worthwhile as one of Haneke’s or Van Sant’s shot-for-shot remakes. There are no changes beyond the location and the species of animal that they have to deal with. Smugness pervades as we are dragged from one tired set piece to another without any improvements made to the equally tired formula of the first film. The lack of character development isn’t a shock, however, as it has been clearly shown before that these are not characters; these are loud, screaming, incredibly irritating voids. Alan is still weird, Stu is still having trouble asserting himself, Phil is still a child, Mr. Chow (a grating Ken Joeng) jumps out of something and everything stops for another terrible musical number. The idea seems to be that people will be happy to pay to see the first film again if you alter some slight details.
It took three writers to string all of this together, an incoherent film filled with bits and pieces held together by a structure that has proven entirely unsuccessful. It’s a mystery film in which people look back at things that have already happened. We know the outcome and we can guess the reason, so why bother showing us. For example, Stu wakes up with the much-litigated Tyson tattoo. Why did he get it? Because he was drunk. Do we really need the film to get bogged down in the intricacies of how he got it?
It is worth pointing out that none of this would particularly matter if the film was funny. Comedy is probably the only genre which can be gravely terrible in every way, but which can get away with it if it is funny. These films aren’t funny, because the characters aren’t well drawn and the situations they get into just aren’t believable. They aim for outlandish but manage only to become fantasy. At least Dude, Where’s My Car? was clever enough to become complete science fiction, rather than trying to convince the audience that all this could happen. Ultimately, however, the film just isn’t funny because it lacks any conceivable wit, uses only tried-and-tested jokes and repeats them again and again. And then a couple more times after that.If you like The Hangover then just watch it again. If you don’t, then pay for something worthwhile.