BY DAN BUSKIRK FILM CRITIC One good drink deserves another and when the original Hangover grossed nearly half a billion dollars in 2009, it was a sure thing that the Wolfpack was going to be back for a second round. Phil, Stu, and Alan are definitely the guys with which you still love to party yet how ironic that a film about cutting loose should be so unimaginative about how to run wild.
It’s the difference between the expectations of a film that costs 40 million dollars and has no stars and being a $80 million dollar film that’s expected to deliver a fortune. Where the original Hangover gave you the impression that their adventures were about to careen out of control at any moment, The Hangover Part II seems desperate to deliver the exact same film as last time, with pretty much the exact same surprises.
The only place they could think to top Vegas was Bangkok. Dentist Stu (Ed Helms) is there to marry Lauren (Jamie Chung of Sucker Punch) in Thailand, her parents’ homeland. Once again Alan (rotund man child Zach Galifianakis) drugs their drinks and bang, they wake up in a squalid Bangkok hotel room. No baby this time, but a monkey! The monkey/baby exchange will give you an idea of how unimaginatively they stick to the plot of the last Hangover. As the trio (completed by with Bradley Cooper playing hunky jerk Phil ) hunt for Stu’s missing future brother-in-law, who got lost in their cloudy memories of the night before.
So much of the strength of the first Hangover was the chemistry between the trio, and together they hold up this shoddy sequel, at least keeping a smile on your face where the early film earned guffaws. The film’s most dependable spark is comedian Ken Jeong, back as the effeminate, slang-tossing gangster Mr Chow, who the film needs to humiliate so badly they reveal his minuscule penis. His broken English is a throwback to every Asian stereotype across Hollywood history, a fact only avenged by how Jeong effortlessly steals every scene he’s in. The film also contains the first full-frontal non-operative transsexual shot in a mainstream comedy that I can think of.
This might be giving too much away although I found it intriguing that a character admits he was secretly yearning for his gay sexual experience. It gets to the whole sad subtext of the series, that we’re exploding with repressed urges, but we’re so strictly conformist that we’ve agreed to clench our true selves back until we’ve drunk ourselves silly at the edge of the world. Add to that, the general snide attitude toward Bangkok and its citizens and it brings an oddly conservative chill to the party. After blacking out and acting out a few times, you get the feeling the Wolfpack should face their fears and desires.