Director: Todd Phillipps
Waking up in a Bangkok backstreet apartment with a Mike Tyson-like tattoo around his eye, groom-to-be Stu (Ed Helms) laments the previous evening’s activities. “All I wanted was a bachelor brunch!” Having watched The Hangover Part II, audiences will feel the same way.
The ‘Wolfpack’ (as Zach Galifaniakis’ painfully simple Alan dubbed them) head to Bangkok as Stu prepares to marry Lauren (Jamie Chung) there. To help him get over his nerves (and his father-in-law’s disapproval) Alan, Phil (Bradley Cooper) and Doug (Justin Bartha) propose a final beer with Stu on the beach. Along with Lauren’s younger brother Teddy (Mason Lee), the group (except Doug, the sensible and least marketable of the guys) proceed to up the ante on their outing in Las Vegas the last time around and awaken with no recollection of what happened, a missing Teddy and with various physical and psychological scars. The events in Jon Lucas and Scott Moore’s script for the first Hangover were so bizarre and outlandish that the only choice was to feel sorry for these fish out of water. The fact that it happened a second time is a combination of easy marketability and a lazy script. Craig Mazin and Scot Armstrong collaborate with director Todd Phillips on writing duties, and completely mangle the characters and charm of the original film. The fish out of water are now a pack of whiny asses whose (wolf)pack sensibilities are eschewed for mean-spiritedness. Alan takes an immediate dislike to Teddy upon meeting him, and his plot to shut Teddy out is so unlike the hilarious manchild of the first installment as to be unrecognizable, whilst Phil and Stu simply should have learned from their previous mistakes. There is little-to-no warmth or charm to these morons. Once they made a few wrong turns in search of a good time; now, they bring chaos wherever they go, including seedy nightclubs and a Buddhist monastery. If these seem like clichés, it is a sad reflection on how little Phillips brings to the table as either a director or screenwriter.
The characters and plot becoming more cruel may have been forgivable had The Hangover Part II been funny, but there are long stretches in which there is nothing to tickle the funny bone. As the Wolfpack hunt for Teddy, there is nothing that hasn’t been seen before or that can’t be seen coming a mile off. Shoehorning in a car chase through Bangkok streets or having ladyboys show their equipment is the equivalent of throwing crap at a wall to see what sticks. If you’re not being shocked, you’re not reacting at all. Ken Jeong returning as Mr. Chow is the only thing in the film that raises a couple of titters. Nothing else works, not even the wasted cameos by Paul Giamatti and Nick Casavettes. The Hangover Part II is a film without a clue, greenlit in haste following the original’s surprising success. It has all the hallmarks of a studio money-grabber: no laughs, no reverence for what came before and no soul. If another Hangover is threatened, on the basis of this film hopefully it’ll see the Wolfpack entering Alcoholics Anonymous.