The Wolfpack heads to Bangkok for Stu’s (Ed Helms) wedding. An innocent night having a beer on the beach ends with the gang waking up in a crummy hotel room with one of their number missing… Again. The question is, how do they find a missing person when they can’t remember what they did the night before… Again.
The Hangover was such a runaway success that it is hardly surprising a franchise was built around it. It is also not surprising that lightning doesn’t strike twice. The plot of the first film has been lovingly (!) recreated in Bangkok for the second film, which leaves it feeling unoriginal, but the jokes somehow missed the trip, which means this is a less funny, less glamorous version of a hit movie.
The characters have not really grown or developed since the first film, other than to have a healthy fear of going out on the rip on a stag night again, but they invited Alan (Zach Galifianakis) so things were always going to get out of hand. Doug (Justin Bartha) stays out of the action again this time, but he is not the one that the gang must find. Bradley Cooper’s Phil is just as foul mouthed as usual and Ken Jeong’s Mr Chow is just as borderline insane as usual. You get the picture; this is The Hangover in Bangkok.
Copying the formula from the first film is where this one went wrong; audiences have seen the missing friend story already; they needed something new. As well as this, Bangkok is a darn sight more scary than Las Vegas, so the film is darker, weirder and generally more offensive than the first. Original writers Jon Lucas and Scott Moore jumped ship and newcomers Craig Mazin, Scot Armstrong and director Todd Phillips failed to recapture the magic of the first film meaning The Hangover Part II is more akin to ‘the fear’ than an actual hangover.
Director Todd Phillips has not allowed the characters to grow or the situations to change; instead he relies on cameos and recreating events from the first film and a monkey who smokes cigarettes for comedy. The setting of The Hangover – Las Vegas – worked so well because the film showed the underbelly of the glittering town. Bangkok is a monster of a city and the film focuses on the seedier elements, so the film is all underbelly and no sparkle.
In all, The Hangover Part II is a sad follow up to a brilliant first film. Recreating the plot of the original means the film is entirely predictable, the jokes are not funny and the characters are not endearing in the least. The magic of The Hangover has been killed in a Bangkok back alley.