Rating: 2 stars out of 5
The Hangover, with its raunchy comedy and mystery, was a runaway hit. Trying to recreate the magic of the first, the filmmakers have moved the setting to Bangkok from Las Vegas.
Stu (Ed Helms), the boring dentist, is getting married to Lauren (the lovely Jamie Chung, Sucker Punch) in Thailand. After some arm-twisting from Phil (Bradley Cooper), he lets Alan (Zach Galifianakis) join the group. When they arrive in Thailand, Stu fails to impress Lauren's stodgy father in law, who doesn’t consider dentist doctors. The chastened Stu, along with the rest of the ‘wolfpack’ and with Lauren's brother Teddy, decide to have a beer by the beach.
Predictably, that beer proves to be their downfall, and the group find themselves hungover in a Bangkok hotel room, along with a chain-smoking monkey that wears a Rolling Stones denim jacket. The only sign of Teddy is a finger with his Stanford ring on it. Once again, the wolfpack have to retrace their steps, find Teddy and get back to the island resort in time for Stu's wedding.
While the sequel might have photocopied the skeleton of the original, they seem to have forgotten the meat and muscle. The comedy in the sequel just doesn’t have much of a kick, never capturing the anarchistic, freewheeling, anything-can-happen nature of the first film.
Essentially, director Todd Phillips just sends the trio through a variety of typical Bangkok locations as they try to retrace their steps. Pole-dancing bars, serene temple grounds and tattoo parlours form part of the backdrop, as well as the idyllic island location where the wedding takes place. It's not a Thailand tourism board advertisement for the country, but it does rely too much on typical tourist trap clichés.
The first film was a mix of the sweet, silly and surreal, while the sequel is just silly. The jokes and gags here are forced, such as one where the monkey pretends to do a blow job on an old monk. Even the name of the city is repeated and practically screamed several times, as Phillips and the screenwriters hope that it’s sufficient to get laughs. Pity most of the attempted humour is pretty pedestrian and it’s all lost the element of surprise.
Galifianakis has proved to be one of America's most interesting comedians, but his one-liners and deadpan style don't have much punch here. Bradley Cooper appears to be the pretty boy trying to ensure the movie scores with female audiences, and his main job appears to be looking hot and sweaty.
There are some bright spots; Paul Giamatti is great as a mob boss who’s haunting down the three and Mr Chow (Ken Jeong), while Nick Cassavates, who took over a role from Liam Neeson, plays a tattoo artist who just outshines the main cast when he’s on-screen.
Hangover 2 proves that the essence of comedy is surprise, and considering how much it’s taken from the first film, you won’t get any here. It’s a whole load of excesses and raunch, but very little actual humour. The strangely endearing quality of the characters from the first film might make you want to give it a shot, but just don’t expect to laugh much, and you might want to have a few drinks before hand.