In an era where virtually every blockbuster is either a sequel or inspired by another source, the first "Hangover" stood out as an original laugh-per-minute effort with a surprisingly clever screenplay. Since that film went on to become the highest grossing R-rated comedy of all time, we all knew that Director Todd Phillips would inevitably deliver a sequel. But in "The Hangover Part II," the wolf pack suffers more from déjà vu than from the sensation of having one too many. From the opening scene where Bradley Cooper calls with some bad news to the end credits featuring snapshots from the forgotten night, "The Hangover Part II" is a repeat of its predecessor. While many will have a good time at the movie, nobody will walk away thinking that it was better than the original.
This time around Ed Helms' Stu is getting married to a woman named Lauren, played by Jamie Chung. Cooper's Phil and Zach Galifianakis' Alan both return to accompany their friend to Thailand for the wedding. A couple nights before the ceremony, the guys decide to have a beer on the beach. The next morning, they wake up in a sleazy hotel room where they discover that Alan's head has been shaven and Stu has a gotten a tattoo on his face. Most imperatively, they come across the severed finger of the bride-to-be's brother. This leads to a series of escapades through Bangkok to find the brother. Sound familiar?
The original "Hangover" was basically a one-premise movie. Unlike the "American Pie" sequels, there's really not much that the filmmakers can do here other than put the characters under the same exact circumstances. Predictability is unavoidable in a follow-up such as this. The real question is whether or not "The Hangover Part II" is funny. It is ... in parts.
Galifianakis steals the show once again. His creation of Alan is somewhere between being socially awkward and completely insane, never realizing just how hilarious he is. Ken Jeong is also back as rambunctious Mr. Chow, who reminds us all just how funny cultural insensitivity can be. One welcome addition to the wolf pack is a monkey who wears a cool denim jacket and is addicted to cigarettes. These are all great characters that are always fun to watch.
Although there are big laughs in the movie, "The Hangover Part II" mainly seems interested in referencing the first film. At first these in-jokes are funny. But by the time Mike Tyson makes yet another cameo, the film really starts to become tired. All in all, I enjoyed bits and pieces of "The Hangover Part II." But the film is simply too familiar for me to recommend. At the very least "The Hangover Part II" could have provided an explanation for the chicken in the first film. I guess that chicken will forever remain one of the great mysteries of the cinema.