Hangover Part II: Going Through the Motions

The Hangover Part II is an enjoyable movie, sometimes, and mostly accomplishes what it sets out to do: make a lot of money based on how much people love the first one. However, by any other measure, The Hangover Part II is a colossal failure.

While I was disappointed by the decision Todd Philips made in reusing the first movie’s plot, that alone wouldn’t have made me dislike this film. Sure, it uses some of the same shots and plot points as the first one, but this is probably to be expected with a comedy sequel, and I would have forgiven that, had this been as enjoyable a film.

However, I found The Hangover Part II to be pretty unbearable. Basically everything charming and fun about the first one is gone. While the backdrop of Bangkok lends itself to this kind of film, (and the backdrops are one of the few good things about this film) Hangover Part II takes a dark turn and doesn’t look back. While the first film featured hijinks, pranks, and misunderstandings, everyone in this film knows what the stakes are and how dangerous the situation has become. And yet, there are even less consequences this time around.

One factor that made the first film so great was being able to sit in the audience and imagine the scenarios happening to me. I could almost imagine a night in Las Vegas going so seriously out of control and having to deal with everything the next day. However, it is hard to imagine that happening to the same group of people again, especially since everything here has a heightened sense of surrealism. It was, as Dan Trachtenberg of The Totally Rad Show put it, “predictably unpredictable.”

Further annoyances include the extreme lack of female characters who are more than just warm bodies to fill up the frame. I don’t believe there is a woman in this film with more than four or five lines of dialogue. Even our beloved bros have stepped down from fully-realized characters to one-note caricatures.

All of these things might have been excusable if the film were funny. I think there are only a few funny moments in the film, both very early on, before they even get to Bangkok. The rest of the film plays out more like an action film with occasional attempts at humor, but most of those are more enjoyable than this.

The film has one insightful moment, when Alan (Zach Galifianakis) explores the deep recesses of his mind to try and retrieve memories of where the wolf pack was the night before. While we are in Alan’s memories, we see the three “best friends,” drinking, drugging, whoring, and causing mayhem…all as children. This is the epitome of what The Hangover franchise is: the prolonged adolescence of adult men. And for whatever reason, Part II seems to abandon the fun, replacing it with dark, twisted imagery that’s just an inexplicable hodgepodge.

The Hangover III has been greenlighted. I can only hope that the filmmakers forget the green lining their pockets and return this series where it belongs-as the unforgettable underdog that wowed and delighted audiences and critics alike.