The comedic premise of the 2009 original was pure genius, executed with minimal imagination; it was like teenagers blessed with the power of invisibility who could only think to sneak into the girls’ locker room. This version copies the formula, to the same effect.
Phil (Bradley Cooper) and Alan (Zach Galifianakis) have joined Stu (Ed Helms) in Thailand for Stu’s wedding — and naturally a pre-wedding celebration goes horribly wrong and leaves them wondering what happened the night before. For much of the film, it’s almost enough just to spend some quality crazy-time with Galifianakis’ Alan, whose childlike possessiveness of his “Wolfpack” buddies anchors another blissfully funny performance.
But there’s a general half-assedness to the rest of the film. Cooper has virtually nothing to do but spout exposition and react to craziness, and a subplot involving squeaky-voiced gangster Mr. Chow (Ken Jeong) and a shadowy “businessman” (Paul Giamatti) feels almost superficially attached to echo the underworld stuff from the original. Time and again, it feels like no one really reached for a truly great idea.
It would be easy enough just to pick on The Hangover Part II for gags about tiny penises and tranny prostitutes; when you’re hanging out with frat boys, Oscar Wilde isn’t going to be tossing off witticisms at that same party. Generally, though, it feels exactly like a script that was thrown together quickly to capitalize on an unexpected success, duplicating the execution with all its flaws. If there’s a mystery remaining for another installment, it’s how you can keep wasting so much potential. Grade: C-plus
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