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movie review: The Hangover, Part II

Unless moviegoers themselves are willing to shoulder some of the blame, it’s useless to try and figure out why The Hangover Part II is so bad. The film only exists because, after the hilarious 2009 movie broke box-office records for an R-rated comedy, its studio demanded a sequel. And if their instincts were correct, people will flock to see it this weekend. If your only arbiter of success is money earned, then the film will probably be considered a hit. If you factor quality into the equation, forget about it.

The Hangover caught lightning in a bottle, which is usually a one-time occurrence. That hasn’t stopped—

—director Todd Phillips (who cowrote this script with Craig Mazin and Scot Armstrong) from trying to replicate the setup and payoff of the first picture…but the spark is gone, and so are the laughs.

I can’t remember laughing harder at a recent film than I did at The Hangover, in spite of my usual aversion to raunchy comedy. Part II offers a great deal of tumult and incident but a notable shortage of laughs, as Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms, and Zach Galifianakis head off to Thailand for Helms’ wedding and find themselves hung over one morning in a seedy Bangkok hotel, unable to recall how they got there.

There’s no point in my telling you more than that, because the plot doesn’t make a lot of sense, and its resolution is even harder to swallow. (By the way, why exactly is this movie set in Bangkok? It can’t be to show off the city’s scenic wonders, because most of what we see looks awful.) One can’t blame the actors, who do their best, but even they aren’t as appealing as they were the first time around, because their characters were paper-thin to begin with, and the material they have to work with here is hopeless. What’s more, yelling doesn’t make a line funnier.

In a more perfect world, customers who feel burned by second and third-rate sequels would be wary the next time a number 2, 3, or 4 came to their neighborhood multiplex. But you know what Barnum said…

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