Hangover 2

It has been two years since writer-director producer Todd Phillips unleashed the mother of all benders on audiences with The Hangover. The film about four buddies on a lost weekend in Vegas was a comedic tour de force that left audiences laughing from start to finish and went on to be the highest grossing R-rated film in history. Naturally when a film does this kind of business, thoughts turned to a sequel and Phillips has returned with the original cast and crew to follow up this comedy classic.

Plot of the film mild-mannered dentist Stu (Ed Helms), who is getting married in Thailand to the girl of his dreams. Undaunted by the fact that his fianc√©’s father despises everything about him, Stu convinces his best friends Phil (Bradley Cooper), and Doug (Justin Bartha), to take the 16 hour flight to attend the ceremony. When news reaches them that a crestfallen Alan (Zach Galifianikis), is waiting for his invitation to the ceremony, Stu is reluctant because he does not want a repeat of what happened in Vegas.

But despite their misgivings, the friends decide to include Alan in the ceremony and embark to the airport for the long flight to Thailand. They’re joined at the airport by Stu’s future brother-in-law Teddy (Mason Lee), a child prodigy who was already attending Stanford at 16 and has designs on a future medical career. As Stu’s fiance explains later in the film, Teddy is their father’s “most prized possession.”

Alan takes an instant disliking to Teddy and sees him as an outsider in their “wolf pack” and doesn’t miss an opportunity to try to exclude Teddy. Upon their arrival in beautiful Thailand, the friends get through a somewhat awkward dinner with the future in-laws and relax on the beach for a bonfire and bachelor party. Phil makes sure to be extra careful to avoid any of the issues they had in Vegas and selects bottled beer that was given to them by the hotel staff and makes sure that every one of them only gets an unopened bottle to drink.

Despite these precautions, Stu, Phil, and Alan wake up the next morning in a seedy hotel with absolutely no memory of how they got there and what happened the night before. Stu now sports a fresh facial tattoo while Alan has a completely shaved head. Matters are further complicated when the group realizes that Teddy is missing and that what appears to be his severed finger is found to be floating in a bucket of water.

As if things were not bad enough, matters take an even extreme turn for the worse when a monkey and Mr. Chow (Ken Jeong), show up and add even bigger complications to the already complex situation. The group learns that Doug is safely back at the resort and waiting for their arrival at breakfast after having left the bonfire early, leaving Stu, Alan and Phil to piece together the forgotten events of the night and locate Teddy before the wedding. Along the way they run into criminals, the sleazy side of Bangkok, upset monks, and much more as they race against time to solve the mystery and locate Teddy.

What follows is a comedic adventure complete with jaw-dropping sequences that leaves the audience shocked at just how far they push the envelope. The cast works well with one another and there are some truly funny moments in the film. The biggest issue with the movie is that it must walk a fine line between using the established formula of friends trying to remember and deal with the consequences of their lost evening while not repeating itself.

This is a very tricky proposition as the film essentially follows the same plot line of the original film: a group of friends are trying to remember the previous night and locate a missing member prior to a wedding. There are also similar jokes such as Stu dealing with a tattoo instead of a missing tooth and Alan’s constant nonsensical bantering and plethora of useless information.

Instead of trying to reinvent the wheel director Todd Phillips instead focuses on the relationship of the cast and allows the unique and exotic setting to be the new character and foil for the comedy. Many times in the film it is established that Teddy must be located before “Bangkok gets him” and as such the city offers endless opportunities for the cast.

The film does drag at the three quarters mark but recovers nicely, leading to a predictable finale. While the film was not as thoroughly funny as the original, in terms of humor and storytelling, but there are still plenty of laughs and eye-popping scenes that make it an enjoyable comedy. There are rumors that Phillips has plans for third film in the series to complete the trilogy. If this is indeed the case I would welcome a third film with the understanding that more care be put into the plot to avoid rehashing previous jokes and situations.

3.5 stars out of 5

Second Review by Charlie Braverman

In The Hangover Part 2, which I think should be named Bangkok Boogaloo, Dentist Stu (Ed Helms) is about to be married to the love of his life, Lauren (Jamie Chung), in Thailand. Of course he invites his best friends Phil (Bradley Cooper) and Doug (Justin Bartha) to be part of his special day. He definitely does not want Alan (Zach Galifianakis) to go but after some begging by Doug even Alan gets invited and then it’s off to Thailand. After the worst rehearsal dinner ever Phil, Doug and Alan convince Stu to join them for a beer around a bonfire on the Resort’s beach and Stu’s soon to be brother-in-law Teddy (Mason Lee) joins them. Phil, Alan and Stu wake up the next morning in cockroach infested hotel room, luckily no tiger in the bathroom just a capuchin monkey (Crystal, seriously that’s her real name) and Mr. Chow (Ken Jeong) passed out on the floor. After a quick phone call they discover that Doug is safe back at the Resort but no one knows where Teddy is. Thus begins another epic adventure for Stu, Phil & Alan to find Teddy (while not remembering anything from the night before) and also get to the wedding taking place the next day. Will Stu get married? Do they find Teddy? Where can I get

Many times I have found that sequels are a huge let down, so when I walked in to the theatre to watch The Hangover Part 2 a feeling of unease washed over me. I took my seat, lights dimmed, people put away their cells, there were some previews and then the movie began. I don’t remember the exact time the feeling of unease went away, I believe it was 8 seconds after the opening credits ended and it was replaced with a giggle followed by a laugh and soon there was so much laughter I almost spilled my drink, there was three or five “I can’t believe they did that” and I even covered my eyes a couple of times because… well without giving away any spoilers lets just say I will never go to a strip club in Bangkok and leave it at that.

Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms and Zack Galifianakis all did equally amazing jobs in their roles, the comedic chemistry they have on-screen is incredible and ladies, if I remember correctly, Mr. Cooper does have a shirtless scene (sorry for not knowing for sure but male nudity is not something I care to remember, even if it is just being topless). Crystal the Capuchin Monkey is adorable and does an outstanding job, I think everyone who sees this movie will want a capuchin monkey of their own. Though the basic premise is the same (don’t remember what happened, must find so-so and get someplace within a set time frame and other objectives arise that they must overcome to find so-so), the story in this film is still just as entertaining to watch unfold as the first and they even spiced it up a notch. WARNING: This is a stereotypical “Guy” movie, like the original movie the humor is crude, rude and lewd (just how I like it) so if you found the first movie offensive then I must ask, why are you expecting something different from this one? Oh and because I heard a couple of people talking about it after the movie I do want to point out that there is some racial humor and Crystal never actually smokes or does any drugs during the film, again this is a “guy” movie and we never want to see our monkeys hurt.

As of this writing I am still uncertain on which of the two movies I liked more, however I can say that when the movie was over I was not disappointed… I may have still been mentally scarred by some of the things I saw but I was not disappointed.

4.5 out 5 Bumps (movie reference)