DIR: Todd Phillips • WRI: Craig Mazin, Scot Armstrong, Todd Phillips • PRO: Daniel Goldberg • DOP: Lawrence Sher • ED: Debra Neil-Fisher, Michael L. Sale • DES: Bill Brzeski • Cast: Bradley Cooper, Zach Galifianakis, Ed Helms
The problem with sequels is the weight of expectation; people have seen and loved the first one, so any follow-up is going to be compared under the harsh light of comparison. The problem with sequels to comedies is that there has never been a really good sequel to a comedy. Sure, there have been one or two exceptions to the rule (National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, Wayne’s World 2) but almost every follow up to a great comedy has been a great let-down. And the problem with a sequel to The Hangover is not only did the original break box-office records ($467 million worldwide), but it also managed to win Best Comedy Picture at the Golden Globes. The original was a big deal. So does the sequel break the trend of comedy sequels and live up to its predecessor’s standards? In a word – no.
All of the original Wolfpack are back, with Ed Helms inviting Bradley Cooper, Justin Bartha and Zack Galifianakis to his wedding on a secluded beach in Thailand. Two nights before the wedding, the guys are enjoying a quiet drink on the beach with Helms’ wife’s little brother. Cut to the next morning, and the guys wake up with no recollection of the night before. Also they are now smack bang in the middle of Bangkok. Also, the little brother is missing. Also, there’s a monkey, somebody’s finger in ice, Helm’s face is tattooed, all of Galifianakis’ hair is gone, etc, etc.
Anyone who has seen the original will know the drill, as the sequel repeats the comedic beats of the original almost to the point of it being a remake rather than a sequel. Except this time the comedy is much, MUCH darker. Without ruining any of the surprises, tonally the film has more in common with dark comedy/thriller Very Bad Things, especially once the dead bodies, brothels, drug cartels and human trafficking references start rearing their heads.
The relative safety of Vegas is replaced by a constant foreboding threat of the unknown (‘Bangkok has you now’ is spouted more than once, giving a sense that the city is alive and capable of consuming people at will). Much of the laugh-out-loud comedy of the original is now replaced with shocked-into-stunned silence, the cameos range from ‘Why exactly are YOU here?’ to ‘Who exactly are YOU?’, and the whole endeavour smacks of trying too hard to out-do the original without actually trying too hard to make anything different. Perhaps if the original never existed, The Hangover Part II could be an acceptable summer comedy. But as it stands, its level of mediocrity can be viewed as nothing more than an unsurprising disappointment.
Rated 16 (see IFCO website for details)
The Hangover Part II is released on 26th May 2011