top of page
  • Writer's picturePopEntertainment

The Hangover Part II (A Movie Review)

Updated: Mar 25

The Hangover Part II (2011)


Starring Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms, Zach Galifianakis, Justin Bartha, Ken Jeong, Paul Giamatti, Mike Tyson, Jeffrey Tambor, Mason Lee, Jamie Chung, Nirut Sirichanya, Sasha Barrese, Gillian Vigman, Bryan Callen, Yasmin Lee, Sondra Currie and Nick Cassavetes.

Screenplay by Craig Mazin, Scot Armstrong and Todd Phillips.

Directed by Todd Phillips.

Distributed by Warner Bros. 102 minutes. Rated R.

Two years ago, the surprise critical and popular success of The Hangover led you to believe that Todd Phillips – a journeyman comic writer/director who was best known for mediocre fare like Old School, School For Scoundrels and Starsky & Hutch – had significantly raised his game. It looked like he was a comic voice to be reckoned with. 

In the time since, he has helmed two high profile projects, both co-starring the breakout Hangover star Zach Galifianakis. The first volley was the often-painful Planes Trains and Automobiles rip-off Due Date. Several months later, this sporadically funny sequel to his magnum opus comes along. Actually calling it a sequel may be a bit of a misnomer. It is much more like a blatant remake of the original – a tiny bit wilder for effect, but also much less fresh and interesting than its predecessor. 

Suddenly, the thought occurs: maybe The Hangover was an anomaly, not a sign of greatness to come so much as a happy accident of concept, cast and script. 

The Hangover 2 strains mightily to recapture the magic of the first chapter – and it even periodically does – but in the long run there is a desperate sense of been-there, done-that to the proceedings. The first film was so memorable because the film had found a unique way to glimpse some pretty common bachelor party movie tricks. 

However, by simply repeating the same concept – the guys got so fucked up that they have no idea what exactly they did the night before and have to piece together the debauchery through detective work and random clues – the movie lost the spontaneity and sense of excitement of the original and has not found anything new to replace it with. 

Therefore, when the film does get funny – and there are some very big laughs strewn about here – you still feel the need to compare it to the original, which was simply more naturally and consistently humorous. 

Zach Galifianakis is once again the comic bright light here, with Ken Jeong’s Mr. Chow coming in and stealing his few scenes. Bradley Cooper and particularly Ed Helms are kind of hung out to dry here, though. They really have nothing to do but relive their earlier adventures, and frankly this shows in both of their performances, which are an odd mixture of manic and perfunctory. 

Once again, Justin Bartha has not nearly enough to do – though in the first film at least there was a plot reason for his absence. Here, it just seems like they didn’t feel like writing him into the storyline. 

Sure, they added a couple of biggish-name cameos: Paul Giamatti and Nick Cassavetes (replacing the bigger-named Mel Gibson, who was cut from the film due to the bad press stemming from his extracurricular foibles.) They even bring back Mike Tyson, though they give him much less funny stuff to do than the first time around (unless, of course, the idea of seeing him lisp-singing “One Night in Bangkok” from Chess is inherently hysterical to you.) 

And the plotlines that remain from the previous film are ratcheted up for comic effect, and strangely that somehow lessens them. For example, is there really any reason for one of our heroes to find out that he slept with a she-male prostitute? Wasn’t the regular prostitute from the first film enough? Why don't they ever bother to explain how Galifianakis’ head was shaved? And what was the deal with the drug-running monkey? Also, I cannot imagine anyone reacting to losing a finger with the matter-of-factness that one of the supporting characters here does, as well as his loving family who also can’t be bothered to be upset about this mutilation. 

Yet, it is all supposed to be explained away with the simple apocryphal explanation which is repeated here ad nauseum, “Bangkok has got him.” 

Which brings up another puzzle about this film: why Bangkok? Oh, sure, I know that in Bangkok sex, drugs and human life are cheap. I’m not asking why the filmmakers chose it – I’m asking why the characters would be there themselves. 

The filmmakers lay on a tortured explanation – that the Ed Helms character was marrying a woman from Bangkok and her parents wanted the wedding there. Now first of all, this completely overlooks the fact that Helms’ character married Heather Graham in the last film – okay a drunken marriage with a hooker on the night you met her may not be a recipe for wedded bliss – but other than a couple of passing jokes, that relationship was not even acknowledged here. (Where did she go? How and why did they break up? What happened to her kid that he supposedly loved so much?)

Then, how did he meet this new woman? – who is a complete doormat, by the way, and at the same time, way too pretty for him. Why did her father – who makes it quite clear that he can’t stand the guy his daughter is marrying – fly everyone out to have a massive, expensive wedding that he in no way approves of? And why did his best friends go flying across the globe when this was the third wedding, he either had or had planned in the last two years? 

I know, looking for rational storytelling in a Hangover movie is a fool’s errand. However, the first film did have its own fractured logic. And frankly, the fact that I had so much time to wonder about film plot points is just proof that The Hangover Part II did not do its job.

Jay S. Jacobs

Copyright ©2011 All rights reserved. Posted: May 25, 2011.


bottom of page