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IN SHORT: Darker than and a different kind of funny than the first. [Rated R. 102 minutes]
For the fifteen years we've been writing under this trade name, we've had one overriding rule for all movies reviewed on this site: You shouldn't have to know the Source Material to understand what is going on in the film you've paid your hard earned money to see. We relax that rule a bit once (we) get to the third or fourth movie in a franchise, but the Rule has served us well for a good long time.
So, does The Hangover Part II manage to stand on its own for those who may have been, I dunno, sloppy drunk or otherwise enhanced when they first watched The Hangover? For the most part, yes. While the early part of the film makes references to the first movie, if you don't remember the joke (and we've seen hundreds of films since so, no, we don't) the gist is there.
Having progressed in real time since that movie, we meet "the guys" once again. Some are lugging babies. Some have wives expecting. The focus of this film is on the renegade solo calf (sic) about to be rounded up and made to join the herd. Sorry.... our back is out. That's the pills writing, So we're going to lift from the notes 'cuz we can't sit up....
Phil Wenneck (Bradley Cooper) and Doug Billings (Justin Bartha), travel to Thailand for the wedding of BFF Dr. Stuart "Stu" Price (Ed Helms) and the lovely Lauren (Jamie Chung). Because of what happened in the earlier film, an invitation was not extended to Alan Garner (Zach Galifianakis) who takes it kind of personally. Phil and Doug convince Stu to make nice with Alan and off to Thailand they go. There Stu meets his in-laws to be, Joi and Fohn (Penpak Sirikul and Nirut Sirichanya). Fohn, the father in law to be, especially despises Doctor Stu. To appease the in-laws, Stu takes his soon to be brother-in-law Teddy (Mason Lee) under his wing. The move also ensures, at least to Stu, that nothing will happen in the next two days to totally mess up his world. Behaving like a parent -- Teddy is supposed to be about 16 -- is a sure way to keep his life grounded. So Stu refuses any sort of wild and crazy bachelor party. He is so insistent that no-nothing no-how should mess up his wedding to be, he refuses a cordial round of drinks from his friends. Even his fiancee Lauren says that's a bit much.
So our "heroes" locate a sealed six-pack and crack it open around a small bonfire on a resort beach. (For those that haven't been, there are some lovely and very romantic and exotic resorts to be found in Thailand. And in the city, you can pick up an eleven or twelve year old for a hot time . . . though that disgusting bit of reality doesn't find its way into Part II. Instead, there's this monkey, We'll come back to that).
The Next Morning: this band of brothers wakes up in a dive of an apartment in Bangkok. A new tattoo is engraved upon Stu's face and Alan's head hair has been cut off, but not his beard. The film then moves into darker territory as our troops try to figure out the lost hours, how they got to Bangkok, what they did and where they did it and why all that is left of Teddy is a finger with a ring on it.
Luckily there is the presence of Leslie Chow (Ken Jeong), another carryover character who, apparently, is the only one of the group who has total recall of what happened during that one night in Bangkok. Chow is a real "party-til-you-drop" animal and what happens next to Chow is . . . well . . . kids, don't do drugs, okay <vbg>?
The biggest difference here is that Part II is not the "laugh so hard you don't remember where you are" story that the original was. THe difference is that you are allowed to catch your breath between the various situations, most funny and some -- dare we say it? -- dramatic.
Some of that dramatic stuff may relate to the first movie. As it is, the moment is a mere hiccup in the overall story which features more blood and monkeys than any human could possibly expect. Those who "herbally enhance" their viewing experience may feel thrown for a loop once the film takes the occasional dramatic pause. What can we say, kids, that we haven't said two paragraphs up? Don't do drugs.
But those that do, be prepared for the occasional pause
On average, a first run movie ticket will run you Ten Bucks. Were Cranky able to set his own price to The Hangover Part II, he would have paid . . .
dateflick. Those who have run their personal copy of the The Hangover to pieces will get the stuff we didn't (assuming y'all weren't so stoned each and every time you watched the original that you haven't got it memorized yet <vbg>
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