There’s never any reason to suspect that a sequel can’t be as good, if not better, than the original movie. Just look at “Toy Story,” “Harry Potter,” “Lord of the Rings” and even “Pirates of the Caribbean.” But the minute Phil (Bradley Cooper, “Limitless”) cracks open his eyes and finds himself sprawled across a tile floor in a cockroach-infested room in Bangkok, everyone remembers that there’s a reason why nights resulting in that kind of a hangover are only supposed to happen once.

The Hangover Part II

Warner Bros.
Quality 16 and Rave

“The Hangover Part II” is essentially a repeat of everything that happened in the first movie. Except this time, the wolf pack is in Thailand for Stu’s (Ed Helms, TV’s “The Office”) wedding. But the friends misplace Stu’s fiancé’s younger brother, Teddy, instead of Doug. None of them can remember the previous night and they must piece it together in order to make it back in time for the wedding.

In addition to the plot, a lot of the jokes are snide little references to the first movie or just re-workings of the originals. Now Stu has a face tattoo instead of a missing tooth and it just doesn’t have the same comedic value. A face tattoo is way more serious, regrettable and life altering than a missing tooth.

In that same sense, “The Hangover Part II” is much darker and way more twisted. Phil and Alan (Zach Galifianakis, “Due Date”) find a finger in an ice bucket, which is not necessarily an indicator of a night that was wild in a good way. With the original, the gang’s antics were believable — the guys were the three best friends, perhaps even your best friends. But in the sequel, they lose their bro-next-door quality. Stu, Phil and Alan become people nobody wants to party with out of fear of permanently winding up in a Thai prison with a face tattoo. Instead of fully committing to the turn toward the dark side, the movie tries to tame it and connect it with the more all-American Las Vegas scene, resulting in an uncertain combination.

The first movie was fresh and unexpected with Mike Tyson’s tiger, taser-happy cops and strange Asian men popping out of trunks of cars. That element of surprise, so essential to comedy, is completely drained out of “The Hangover Part II.” The strange Asian, Leslie Chao (Ken Jeong, TV’s “Community”) once a fleshy blur against the Las Vegas desert, is now a permanent character, which makes him less funny. He made people laugh in the first place because he was random, but now that mystique is gone.

The one character who manages to preserve his integrity is Alan. And while he does do the same things he did in the first movie, like talk about the Jonas brothers and cause everyone that comes into contact with him to question his sanity, it works. With his shaved head and piercing stare, Galifianakis keeps Alan admirably quirky and awkward. However, as a character, Alan doesn’t have much depth (he’s there for comedic purposes) and it is impossible to expect him to carry the movie alone. Sadly, it would appear the difficult project of making a movie on par with the first one. The cast was swallowed up and most of the “The Hangover Part II’s” plot was lost in the streets of Bangkok.

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