The problem with most sequels are either that they stray too far away from what made them hits or that they stick too closely to the formula of the first. Todd Phillip’s follow-up to his surprising summer comedy mega-hit The Hangover belongs to the latter, where most of the shock and charm of the first is lost to predictability. Part II throws the “Wolf Pack” together again with nearly the same exact turn of events, only instead of Vegas the group winds up stranded and hung over in Bangkok, having to put together piece by piece what happened the night prior whilst also trying to find their lost friend.
Bit by bit, you can see how perfectly this film is in synch with the original. In fact it’s somewhat impressive how Phillips manages to literally make the same film but alter the details enough to make it separate. Without giving much away, a vest-wearing monkey replaces the baby, Stu gets a tattoo on his face instead of losing a tooth, and there’s even another “affair” held by Stu (this one however, more shocking than the last film). If you analyzed each movie scene by scene they would perfectly overlap, which to me seems both like a job-well-done and a safe approach (maybe a little too safe). Perhaps if the “overlaps” were more of nods or winks to the original film it would have felt more natural, but in this case the novelty wears thin and the first’s script is too heavily referenced.
The change of location from Vegas to Bangkok is a dreary one. This film has a much darker edge to its comedy, which I think can work in certain instances, but the bubbly buddy comedy shtick that fans of the first film grew to love is missing here. The bright flashy neon lights of Sin City are replaced with the gritty brown, green, and yellow-saturated colors of Bangkok. I suppose at first glace it seems a wise decision to place the actors in a locale much different than their last adventure, but it ultimately did not work for me; the location added an unneeded level of danger and only furthered my opinion that a sequel was unnecessary.
If you are a fan of the original and are dying to see your favorite characters from Part I again, I wouldn’t discourage you from checking out The Hangover Part II. Zach Galifianakis, Bradley Cooper, and Ed Helms make a great comedy trio and it’s they that elevate much of the material to watchability. There are enough gags and yuks to satisfy most comedy-seekers, but if you were looking for a worthy follow-up to The Hangover, this is mostly just a cash-in flick that uses the same formula as its predecessor to ensure every last cent is squeezed out of the audience’s pockets. As easy as it is to see right through this film, if all you’re looking for is a decent buddy comedy you may enjoy yourself.