The Hangover Part II

Rating: ★★☆☆☆

We’ve been told before to touch not the things that are without fault. Altering that which is already awesome could be a risky act, but repeating it could be even worse, because it shows no diligence and bravery. “The Hangover Part II” resembles its 2009 predecessor so much that it’s probably more appropriate to regard it as a remake, than as a sequel.

The extent of the similarity between the two “Hangover” movies suggests hungry wallets for its makers. When the script is hurried, the shooting will be also. Paychecks are rewarded earlier, and audiences are left to watch a meaner, dirtier, and more offensive version of the same movie. There is a significant increase in violence, coarse language, and public display of privates. To warn viewers that are more sensitive, I would specify which organs to expect, but the setting of the film is Thailand, and if there’s one thing I learned, it’s that we can never be sure of what we see.

The setting is in Thailand because Stu’s fiancée, Lauren, is from that country, and her parents wish that the wedding is to be held there. Phil, Alan and Doug join Stu, which later leads to a beer at a beach with Lauren’s little brother, Teddy. The next morning they uhm… forget it. You know the drill. Our heroes wake up with a lack of memory and a series of questions, and from this point on we are tasked to listen to conversations we have all heard before.

“What did we do last night?”

“Excuse me. Did you know where our friend is?”

“What is going on?!”

Much of the wit of “The Hangover” was caused by its originality and unpredictability, but since both of those elements are no longer here, wit has been replaced by physical humor. It’s no longer about awkward and wacky situations, but separate events where people get constantly hurt. (Although pain isn’t much of a problem for Mr. Chow, the international criminal with a heart for partying and a nose for drugs.  His behavior here calls for the help of the best mental institution in town.)

Even though this is a prime example of Hollywood’s habit of supporting projects empty of originality, the earlier scenes of “The Hangover Part II” gave me something to look forward to. Almost everything before the actual adventure was funny. Alan, who is clearly the film’s star, lives in a world where being a “stay-at-home son” is a position that is to be bragged about. When the film takes an unfortunate turn for the vulgarity, Alan’s facial reactions to the highly R-rated jokes are funnier than the jokes themselves. Zach Galifianakis is the rare comedian who can be funny by just being there.

The relationship between Alan and the rest of the “wolfpack” is entertainment in itself, which is mostly fueled by Alan’s cluelessness and exaggerated allegiance to his buddies. Must they really be drugged into mental oblivion for them to produce good comedy?

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The Hangover Part II