'Hangover 2' funny, but unnecessary
Hangovers are seldom welcome, but they're always expected.
The same goes for unwarranted sequels.
"The Hangover Part II" is a quasi-exception. Its 2009 predecessor was brilliant - a cleverly written, laugh-out-loud romp through raunchiness and unexpected (and just as hilarious) twists.
It's a perfectly self-contained, standalone comedy. Narratively speaking, no sequels were necessary.
High off a box office binge, producers felt otherwise. They quickly reassembled most of the original team, screenwriters Jon Lucas and Scott Moore not included, and threw together a sequel that would follow in the first's staggered footsteps.
Sounds like a recipe for disaster, but thanks to deft direction from Todd Phillips ("The Hangover") and hilarious performances from a talented cast, "The Hangover Part II" is more like that headache you get toward the end of a long night of revelry - you could do without it, but you're still having fun.
Deciding to play it safe, Phillips took the first film's winning formula and simply transposed it on a setting other than Las Vegas, namely Bangkok, Thailand. The sequel flows identically to the first film, meaning surprises are few and far between.
Trying to make up for this, Phillips (who co-wrote the screenplay) cranks the shock value to 11. Expect more full-frontal nudity, more obscenities, more vulgarity and more Ken Jeong ("Role Models"), though that probably falls under the full-frontal nudity part.
It's the cast, though, that makes this hangover worth enduring. The leads interact with such a casual familiarity that the roles - and their horrified reactions - come naturally.
And there's plenty to be horrified about. Like the first, "The Hangover Part II" opens midway through the story, with groomsman Phil (Bradley Cooper, "Limitless") describing a debauched predicament from a bachelor party gone horribly awry.
This time it's Stu's (Ed Helms, "Cedar Rapids"), who planned a wedding in Thailand to appease the Thai parents of his lovely bride, Lauren (Jamie Chung, "Sucker Punch").
Naturally, he brought the entire gang - smooth-talking Phil, deviant manchild Alan (Zach Galifianakis, "Due Date") and former bachelor Doug (Justin Bartha, "New York, I Love You").
Determined to avoid another Vegas incident, Stu insists on a low-key bachelor brunch, but reluctantly agrees to a beer on the beach, with Lauren's bookish brother, Teddy (newcomer Mason Lee) in tow.
But something happens. The gang wakes up in a seedy Bangkok hotel room with no idea how they got there and only a couple horrifying clues to lead them to answers, including Stu's new Mike Tyson-style facial tattoo and a severed finger that may or may not belong to Teddy, who's vanished into thin air.
Determined to find Teddy before "Bangkok takes him," the gang sets out on a painful journey of grim recollection and graphic realization. Raunchy, gross-out hilarity ensues.
The story follows that of the first film to a tee, so the question's not "what's going to happen," but rather "how is it going to happen?" Hence the adrenalized shock tactics. While "The Hangover" was fantastical, the antics in its sequel seem almost cartoonish (in an R-rated "Fritz the Cat" sense) in comparison.
When the clouded minds finally clear, "The Hangover Part II," while genuinely funny at times, still remains an unnecessary, but fiscally sound, sequel. Plus, a stellar opening weekend at the box office has already guaranteed a third installment.
As a friend of mine once said, while insisting on yet another round, "You'd be a fool not to."
"The Hangover Part II," rated R for pervasive language, strong sexual content, including graphic nudity, drug use and brief violent images, is playing at Regal Cinema 7 in Boone. See page 16 for show times or visit http://www.mountaintimes.com/movies.