“How can the same shit happen to the same guy twice?”
To be fair that quote does not show up anywhere in “The Hangover Part II”, it is actually a quote from the film it seems to most resemble to me, and that is “Die Hard 2”. No, there is no terrorist plot and no omnipotent action hero in “The Hangover 2”, but both are sequels of the very same type and I honestly couldn’t stop drawing this parable in my head while I was watching this film. They both take the plot of the first film and just put it in a new location, so instead of Vegas we get Bangkok. Only that “The Hangover 2” seems much more slavish in this intent.
While the “Die Hard” sequel did not copy the whole structure point by point, “The Hangover 2” does precisely that. Yes, the film opens with a flash forward where Bradley Cooper tells a bride that “they screwed up”. Yes, the film again omits the “crazy night” and just shows us snippets of it in a picture slideshow over the end credits. Yes, it’s all Alan’s (Zach Galifianakis) fault again. And yes, they did forget their friend in a very silly place making their whole adventure ironically pointless. This is basically a remake of the first film, just more of everything, but because of that it also lacks the spark of the original since it is all so familiar.
Furthermore, when I say more of everything I mean precisely that. “The Hangover” had the boys in all kind of comedic shenanigans where they had to go to a police station, and they got tangled with a local criminal, and Stu (Ed Helms) got married to a prostitute (Heather Graham) and got his tooth knocked out, and there was a baby and a tiger and even a great Mike Tyson cameo. All that is back, only more - more action, more raunchy and more scale, but unfortunately also less charm. Just to give you an example Heather Graham was replaced by an Asian tranny and the knocked out tooth by a facial tattoo.
Now I would not say that “The Hangover 2” is a bad film, but just like “Die Hard 2” it is a considerably lesser film than the original. Quite forgettable even. The great thing that worked so marvelously in the first film is precisely the well paced structure that the sequel is aping, and although it is obvious to see why it’s copying this structure the fact that it does copy it so slavishly makes the film’s major turns very predictable and groan-worthy once they start unfolding. But the shenanigans in between those turns still worked for me, though even that is a notch below the shenanigans of the first film.
And while I am always somewhat harsh towards this repetitive and “safe” filmmaking I can’t say that I was not entertained by “The Hangover 2”. I honestly was, and that is the whole purpose of a film like this. I think the chemistry between the main trio still works like clockwork, Bangkok is a visually interesting backdrop and while the jokes are not as outrageous as they were in the first film they’re still out there. But the wise viewer needs to note that this is a sequel of the “Die Hard 2” type, and I think that this is a tidbit most integral for the enjoyment of this film.
Bradley Cooper - Phil
Ed Helms - Stu
Zach Galifianakis - Alan
Justin Bartha - Doug
Ken Jeong - Mr. Chow
The Hangover Part II on IMDb