The Hangover was a successful film, and so the marketing-sensible move would be to produce a sequel; and so we start with the cleverly titled Hangover Part II, which pursues the idea of a sequel to its logical end. The wedding is over, the bachelor party a faded memory, the photo album forgotten. All that is left is the shattered quiet after, where our protagonists pick up the pieces, and return to a life of drudgery that is stable, but somehow less than before when compared to the unsustainable spectacle of the bachelor party. Stu the dentist has pledged his love for a lowlife stripper at his friend’s wedding reception, and proceeds to live unfortunately in thrall to her unrealistic expectations. Doug has just gotten married in a failed attempt to forget his loneliness while tying himself to a harpy who regards him with subtle contempt. Alan remains himself, an annoying one-joke bipolar dipshit who will never equal the surrealist stage persona that Galafianakis can perform. Really, was anything about his aggressive combination of social inadequacy and meth funny? Anyway, he continues on his logical path living with his parents until he is committed after burning down the family boat house. I would mention that Phil returns to his unhappy marriage and shit teacher job, but, you know, fuck Phil, because Bradley Cooper is a douchey brand at this point. They each go home and live a telescoped version of the remainder of their lives, spawning the requisite children and purchase of goods to stave off residual feels of inadequacy and mortality. In the interest of brevity, the director should not have shown ten solid minutes of Phil filling out his Form 1040, but I respect the attempt at verisimilitude. Stu gets into numerous fights with his new girlfriend regarding her lack of taste and style, and his inability to bring her cavernous vagina to orgasm. Alan lives with his parents and continues to eke out a minimal existence while only dimly aware of his own loathsome personality. One scene illustrates this with a near-silent montage where he grimly struggles to prepare toast. Meager entertainment, but this is to be expected when a producer feels compelled to tell the unnecessary story that follows a hit film. It is less asinine than, for example, awkwardly inserting these same assholes into another nearly identical story with the same beats, the same amnesia gimmick, and using a monkey instead of a baby. Actually, I would prefer that to what actually became The Hangover Part II.
You do not need a plot synopsis, because the same bullshit happens in Part II, which is a remake of Part I. Monkey replaces baby, effeminate Asian caricature is replaced by an effeminate Asian caricature (might have been the same guy because, you know), and they wake up in a torn up hotel with their lost friend located a short distance away which is not discovered until the end. The phrase “It happened again” is used like five times. This sort of self-referential cash in worked just as well in The Phantom Menace. This time, Stu is getting married in Bangkok, his guys wish him well the night before on the beach with a drink, and they black out – it is a copy of a copy, and it gets tired from the fade in. The writer has never seen Bangkok in his life as these twits enter a dark night of the soul in a foreign and exotic land that exists mostly in the imagination of a guy who probably has never been to Vegas either. I have never been to the far east, nor will I ever venture to a place where I can get aphrodisiacs made from powdered rhino prostate, but I assume the world recreated in Hangover II has little to do with reality. The exotic heathen haven that is the stuff of internet legends is more likely as dull as any city on earth, except the underground bits where you can buy anything if you have enough cash. You can find that in America, too, except nobody is making films about the wacky hijinks involving crack whores in downtown Detroit. The Hangover saga is a live action Family Guy with less nostalgia and more shock jokes that are not as funny as they are kind of ‘Huh. they said that. okay.’
To say this is less funny than the original is like dividing by zero with a smaller numerator. It entertains by showing stupid people doing stupid shit, and that is the end of it. Actually, the tone set is more similar to a thriller or a horror film – to awaken with no memory of the terrible things you did the previous night, in a strange city with a room containing your incomplete group, a monkey, and a severed finger is unnerving. I woke up once in a strange apartment full of traffic cones and wearing no pants, and ‘funny’ was not the first thing that came to mind. The Cash-in Part II is not funny, just a series of set pieces that go through the motions culminating with an unnecessary Mike Tyson cameo, as if the producer knew there would be no Part III. The one funny thing involves the closing photo album, including a recreation of an iconic Vietnam War photo that Ebert labeled ‘cruel’, and I appreciate that. But overall, this was a turd. Galifianakis is not funny here, just a nonstop awkward schtick that contributes nothing to the non-jokes herein. Cooper says fuck a lot, and that is funny if you are twelve. Ed Helms is a square twat and this wears thin starting with the Tyson tattoo and ending with his Thai father in law accepting him for what he is in the end, whatever that is. There is a dumb subplot about how the father of his bride to be despises him for being whitebread, as if anyone cares.
Todd Phillips has tapped into a duality in the middle aged white guy – a desire to be content, married, and dull, while secretly pining for a hedonistic lifestyle full of whores, chicks with dicks, drugs, and lost weekends. This is fortuitous for his career, as it is an undeclared passion for many men who have achieved financial and emotional stability. They secretly wish for chaos, for some odd calamity to occur where they can regain their hunter-gatherer instincts and cut a wide swath through a savage land and become the alpha males they wish they could be. Alas, it is fortunate they never have this opportunity, as dishwashers and steady electricity are rare in the wild, and they would quickly get their ass kicked in a rough environment. In a way, The Hangover presents a way for these misguided dreamers to live out their vicarious thrill without harm, and return to their insulated suburban bungalows without threat or loss; they can claim to have had fun, but know they would never really enjoy any of this. To be in a dangerous place with no resources to draw upon is frightening. One can truly learn what they are made of when a calamity befalls them, with no safety net to fall upon. Perhaps there is some value here as a lesson learned, without realizing a lesson has occurred. As a comedy, it sucks a sack.