Many sequels to comedies fall into a trap, they seem to follow the exact same footsteps as the first film, Austin Powers in Goldmember, Wayne’s World 2 and Harold & Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay all suffered from this and The Hangover Part II is no different. This doesn’t make it a bad film, it just makes a little lazy but still quite comfortable. Just like in the first film, Alan (Galifianakis), Stu (Helms) and Phil (Cooper) wake up with no short term memory after a wild night with a member of their party missing (this time Stu’s brother in-law to be) and they must find that person within a time limit (before Stu’s wedding). Along the way they run into international criminal Leslie Chow (Ken Jeong), a coke dealing monkey and some women who aren’t exactly what they seem.
This film is dark and twisted, the jokes are for more outrageous than the first, pushing the very boundaries of good taste in a way that only John Waters could be proud of, but it’s funny. There are plenty of moments in the film that offer deep belly laughs and it keeps a smile on your face throughout. The characters are what keep the comedy alive, this is the role Galifianakis was born to play and probably the one he will play throughout his entire career, but it works well and keeps the jokes coming. Ed Helms offers a real centre to the piece; he holds it all together offering both a wildly comedic but sympathetic role. Sadly, despite having a huge amount of charisma, Bradley Cooper is offered very little to do in this sequel apart from just observing on what is going on and getting beaten up every now and then. The supporting cast of Paul Giamatti and Jeong don’t really add much more than plot filler, but with Helms and Galifianakis burning the comedy torch brightly, there is still a lot to enjoy here.
Comedies are usually under looked when it comes to visuals but director Todd Phillips really pulls off a lovely looking film here, the location has been moved to Thailand and every inch of it looks gorgeous, even the less reputable areas. He keep the movie running at a jaunty pace, though the set up at the beginning feels a little drawn out. The audience wants these characters to get to Thailand as quick as possible but we seem to spend about half an hour setting up why they are going, not so fun. The aforementioned subplot involving Giamatti and Jeong is the part of the movie that really doesn’t work, it feels superfluous and offers the least laughs (Jeong’s cameo in the first film shows that this character should only be taken in small doses), but it does add something to the plot which shakes it up from just being a carbon copy of the first film.
The film definitely suffers from being a sequel, but this fact has also allowed it to be darker and dirtier than its predecessor, which is where a lot of the laughs come from. It may feel stale at points but it’s still got a flavor to it, many people seem to have forgotten that this entire franchise (I guess it is one now) is basically a rip off of Dude, Where’s My Car without a sci-fi subplot anyway, it was never original. Originality in its plot doesn’t matter, as long as you find the jokes funny, which if you did in the first one, you probably will again.