The jokes are meaner, the humor's darker, and even the characters aren't as appealing in The Hangover 2. Writer/director Todd Phillips opted not to screw with a winning formula and in simply plopping the guys down in Thailand, but keeping most of the other aspects of the original Hangover story intact, the sequel can't help but suffer in comparison to the fun - and originality - of the first film. The jokes are mostly just variations on what worked so well in the 2009 blockbuster, with a handful of new, raunchier setups added in.
By sticking with what made The Hangover work so well, the sequel feels like it's just riding that film's coattails and can't stand up on its own. Once again, there's an impending marriage involved (this time it's Stu marrying a beautiful Thai lady whose father can't stand the sight of him). There's a night of what's supposed to be harmless drinking followed by a morning in which Stu (Ed Helms), Phil (Bradley Cooper), and Alan (Zach Galifianakis) can't recall anything they did the night before. Instead of a tiger and a baby, The Hangover 2 has a monkey. Instead of a missing tooth, Part 2 has a facial tattoo (which, by the way, Warner Bros got into a legal tangle over as the designer of Mike Tyson's facial tattoo claims he owns the copyright on the design). The groom went missing in the first film; in the sequel the teenage brother of the bride-to-be has vanished...except for his finger.
With a wedding just a day away, the wolf pack must find Stu's missing 16 year old year almost-brother-in-law or else he can kiss any shot at actually exchanging I dos good-bye. But looking for a missing teen in Thailand is more difficult than finding a needle in a haystack, and the most common response to their questions about his possible whereabouts is "Bangkok has him" - meaning he's gone forever.
As the clock ticks down toward the wedding ceremony, the guys have to try and retrace their steps, just as they did in the first film. Once again a stripper's involved (although Stu, to his credit, doesn't wed this one) and Mr Chow (Ken Jeong doing his Asian gangsta shtick) also returns to fill in some of the blanks. Why's he at the wedding in Thailand? Because he's Alan's plus-one. Gangsters, though not the same ones as in the '09 film, also play a part in the wolf pack's wild night of horrifying hijinx while completely inebriated. And instead of having to return a 'borrowed' tiger, the guys have to keep company with a chain-smoking monkey. Oh, and Stu sings another song.
It's The Hangover all over again, with fewer huge laughs and less surprises. That's not to say Hangover 2 is completely without jokes that work. They're there, but there's not as many truly funny scenes - or memorable lines - as there were in The Hangover. The sequel relies too much on what worked previously and although the production went all the way to Thailand, the comedy never ventures far from what worked in Vegas.
Writer/director Todd Phillips had tough choices to make when creating this sequel. Of course the wolf pack would return and of course they had to be put into a situation in which they'd be forced to work together to overcome some obstacle. But how far could 2 wander from the setup of the first film and still keep the fans happy? Phillips and co-writers Scot Armstrong and Craig Mazin opted to not push their luck - or risk alienating fans - and stuck close to the familiar elements from The Hangover. However, in trying to give Hangover fans what we want, they've delivered a Hangover sequel that feels too familiar and has lost its freshness.
The Hangover Part 2 was directed by Todd Phillips and is rated R for pervasive language, strong sexual content including graphic nudity, drug use and brief violent images.
Theatrical Release: May 26, 2011