The Hangover Part 2: Reviewed in Limerick
After Vegas you’d think grog would be banned,
But the wolfpack are back in Thailand,
It’s the exact same old tricks,
Just more monkeys and dicks,
Funny, without getting too out-of-hand.
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2009’s smash hit The Hangover raked in over $467m worldwide, so there was never any doubt that director Todd Phillips (who also did Road Trip, Old School and Startsky & Hutch) would soon be working on a sequel.
This time Phil (Bradley Cooper), Stu (Ed Helms) and Alan (Zach Galifianakis) wake up in the slums of Bangkok after a celebration drink before Stu’s wedding.
Phillips has made a deserving follow-up without trying to out-do the first on every level. Instead, he preserves the exact formula, with the same central characters, in the same situation and simply adds different jokes and a new country.
Mind you, when I say that he doesn’t mess with the formula, I mean that not a single thing is changed. This is basically the movie equivalent of the Macarena Christmas Remix (except obviously less-annoying).
For those few who haven’t seen the first movie, here’s a play-by-play of what happened:
Opens with Phil calling Doug’s missus to explain the situation, credits roll over a deep-country tune, rewind to the week before the wedding, boys have a drink, Kanye West track plays, they wake up with a hangover in a trashed room, Stu freaks out about a physical disfiguration, they realise their buddy is missing, run into trouble with cops, prostitutes and gangsters, Alan confesses what he did, Stu sings a song, they work out where their friend is, Wolfmother song plays, they race back for the wedding, Stu confronts his relationship problems, wedding ceremony takes place, wedding band sing and photos are discovered that accompany the end credits.
For those who want to know what happens in the second, please refer to the synopsis above.
The three characters remain as likable as ever, which is probably because none of them try to steal the show and instead revel in the group dynamic.
Ed Helms screams and complains the entire way but doesn’t become irritating. This is probably because I could see myself reacting in a similar way if I was in the same situation.
In the beginning, it feels like Bradley Cooper is trying too hard to be ‘the cool one’ but plays the straight-guy well – hopefully the fact that he’s become Hollywood’s latest sex symbol doesn’t turn him into a jerk.
Given Galifianakis’ current cult status, he could have easily stolen all the good lines; however he remains the oddball ring-in rather than becoming the main character, and so remains the crowd favourite.
Instead, Ken Jeong gains some additional screen-time, reprising his role as Asian gangster Mr. Chow. His character isn’t just thrown in the mix for racial dick jokes either, as he also plays a crucial role in the story.
There are also a number of cameos and supporting roles that I’d like to mention, but I’ll skip over them to avoid giving anything away – although, as you see his name on the opening credits anyway, I will mention that Paul Giamatti is a welcomed inclusion, and Nick Cassavetes was a bit of a let-down, considering all the fuss around him replacing Liam Neeson, who replaced Mel Gibson in the first place.
Unfortunately The Dan Band (who sang at Doug’s wedding in the first) do not make a comeback, although the replacement cameo at the end is still a nice surprise.
All-in-all, The Hangover Part 2 is a successful and very funny sequel. It doesn’t try to outdo itself in any way and neither do the cast.
With Todd Phillips already discussing a third, I am curious to see what path he takes – surely the same formula won’t work again. Much like with the second Die Hard, you just start to wonder how the same character could possibly get in that situation again – who knows, maybe Samuel Jackson will be added to the cast.
Seriously, wouldn’t you just stop drinking, or at least stop drinking with that particular group of guys?
… Actually, I probably wouldn’t either.