Cute monkeys are the most desperate form of comedy. They’re the gag you go to when you know your movie just isn’t working. People will laugh at a cute monkey, the general feeling is, because its a monkey. Sadly, this is rarely the case as the cute monkey usually only entertains children.
One of the main characters in The Hangover Part II is a cute monkey. You can see where this is going, right?
The original The Hangover was one of the best comedies ever. Hilarious almost all the way through the entire film you rarely got a chance to stop laughing, but you also cared about the characters and none of the humor ever felt like forced jokes. It just worked like great comedies do. And when something really works well (and thus makes tons of money) Hollywood demands a sequel even when one is absolutely and completely unnecessary.
To illustrate how unnecessary The Hangover Part II is the filmmakers decided to make the exact same movie as the original except this time in Bangkok and with the aforementioned monkey. Phil (Bradley Cooper), Stu (Ed Helms), Alan (Zach Galifianakis) and Dough (Justin Bartha) all head to Bangkok for Stu’s wedding to a gorgeous woman. Ed has outlawed a bachelor party thanks to the events of the last film, but agrees to have one beer on the beech with his pals. A quick cut later and we find Phil, Stu and Alan waking up hungover in a dilapidated hotel somewhere in Bangkok with no idea how they got there. They also find the monkey and Mr. Chow (Ken Jeung) in their hotel room. What they do not find is Ed’s brides younger brother, Teddy (Mason Lee), who Mr. Chow informs them was with them last night. They do, however, find his finger.
And thus a quest to discover the location of Teddy by retracing their steps through Bangkok ensues, and it feels exactly like the original and nowhere near as funny despite the fact that the entire plot has been cranked up to 11. Instead of the effortless humor of the first that just seemed to flow so well between the three main actors almost every joke in this film feels like it’s trying to take it to the next level. I won’t lie and say that I didn’t laugh a lot, but it wasn’t the kind of uncontrolled laughter that really great comedies elicit. Instead of being original the jokes all seemed like a big game of one-upmanship with the first film.
This next level of dirty jokes and plot lines also lead to some awkwardly dark places. While the original film definitely had some dark tones this one pushes into a realm that often feels awkward. There where moments where I thought the movie was actually go to slide into a dark comedy instead of an adult comedy. The strange thing is is that had it done this it probably would have made for a better movie or at least a more original one. Moving into a dark comedy would have made it stand out from its predecessor instead of simply being a clone that went too far over the top too often.
Most importantly, however, is the fact that Zach Galifianakis is almost relentlessly unfunny this time around. The character of Alan, who worked so incredibly well the first time, seems completely flat this time around while simultaneously being so over the top that he doesn’t seem to fit with the rest of the film or its characters. The darker tones make his strange antics feel out place at almost any moment, and while the man does deliver some solidly clever lines it just never starts really working like the original. Again, its a case of a forced comedic performance rather than a fluid one.
The same pretty much goes for the rest of the cast as well. Phil seems like an actual asshole this time around instead of the asshole you’re friends with and Stu’s character just goes completely off the tracks to places that don’t even make that much sense. And of course Mr. Chow had to return because he was such a big hit the first time around, but like all needless comedies The Hangover Part II takes what was a small, hilarious character and turn him into a big, annoying one. Lee’s Mr. Chow worked so well in small doses, but when you elevate him to a bigger character he’s just not that funny, especially since the joke wore off the first time around.
The Hangover Part II was absolutely needless and it shows in almost every aspect of the film. Instead of challenging themselves and coming up with a new hilarious jokes and comedy the filmmakers decided to instead make the same movie over. They fell into the greatest trap of the comedy sequel: assuming the audience wants the exact same thing, but even more so. Well, I am at least one audience member who likes to see a little bit of change in his comedy sequels — even when they are entirely unnecessary.
Overall Score: 5.05 – Bad. (5s are movies that either failed at reaching the goals it set out to do, or didn’t set out to do anything special and still had many flaws. Some will enjoy 5s, but unless you’re a fan of this genre, you shouldn’t see it, and might not even want to rent it.)