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The Hangover
Part II

It’s hard to say what fans of Todd Phillips' The Hangover will think of The Hangover Part 2, because I wasn’t really one of them. 

Don’t get me wrong. I didn’t hate the first movie; I just had problems with it.  What’s strange about the sequel, which once again teams stars Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms and Zach Galifianakis, is that it’s pretty much the same movie.  The beats are the same, the scenarios are ridiculous and the laughs are a plenty.  Except this time, the setting is different, the plotting is stronger, the characters are better developed and the stakes are higher.  And I really liked it.

What works for me this time around is that the story feels lived in a little bit.  Whereas in the first film I really didn’t buy the relationships between the characters, the sequel just feels more comfortable.  Although there is a scene in the beginning where Phil (Cooper) is getting his teeth cleaned by Stu (Helms) and he’s sharply dressed and completely a tool, yet a couple of scenes later he’s sitting at breakfast wearing more casual clothes with his carseated baby girl seeming totally different.  It’s a little off putting, but you soon forget it once the movie gets cooking.

This time around the story is practically similar except this time Stu is getting married instead of Doug (Justin Bertha) and this time the wedding is in Thailand instead of Los Angeles.  Doug is pressured by the wife to invite Allen (Galifianakis), but Stu is reluctant because of the last time Allen roofied everybody.  Stu has a change of heart and invites him and The Wolfpack is reunited and off to paradise.

Awaiting Stu in Thailand is his lovely and beautiful fiancé Lauren (The Mega Hot Jamie Chung) along with her family, most importantly her overbearing father.  Her sixteen year old, Stanford Pre-Med, Cello playing, over-achieving brother Teddy had to stay behind and finish classes so he ends up meeting the boys at the airport and the Wolfpack suddenly has a new member, much to the chagrin of Allen.

Once in Thailand, as the pre-wedding day festivities are transpiring, everyone is getting settled in and Stu finds out just exactly how Lauren’s father feels about the nuptials.  Shaking it off, the boys retire for a beer and bonfire on the beach and the night seemingly ends well.

And that’s how the story begins.  To go over how the night really played out we once again follow the guys as they wake up in a strange hotel room in Bangkok with no memory of the previous night and nothing but clues and their strange hangover powers to solve mysteries.  What follows is pretty much the blueprint from the first movie yet tweaked a little bit. 

Missing group member – check, Strange Animal in the hotel room – check, Body Mutilation – Check, Ed Helms song – check, etc…

You would think that that would make for a dull movie… and in some points, the film does drag, but only because you’re expecting an all out comedy.  What I liked about what Phillips did here was his scale of the project.  Phillips gets some really nice shots of Bangkok and he really establishes the mood of the setting. 

Setting is huge in this movie because now the boys really are strangers in a strange land and not knowing the language or the area really makes them have to rely on each other and test their relationships.  This brings a depth to the franchise that was missing in the first film.

The script by Phillips, Craig Mazin and Scot Armstrong is much tighter and the plot a little more creative.  The mystery here is more exciting because the stakes have been raised.  This time, if they don’t find the missing group member then he’ll be lost to Bangkok and that’s a serious cost.

The cast is good and Helms, Cooper and Galifianakis are great here, but they get strong support from Ken Jeong, Paul Giamatti and a really talented monkey.  Seriously…the monkey has a future in films, believe me.

Is it funny?  Yes.  Most of the humor is on Galifianakis’ shoulders and he does great.  One hilarious scene has him recount the night with a little youthful vigor that still has me cracking up.  Helms and Cooper kind of jockey for leading man position, but hold the fort quite nicely and the movie plays out great.

The first Hangover went on to become the highest grossing R rated comedy of all time.  Will the sequel live up to that remains to be seen.  What it does live up to is that it is an improvement on the first film.  It’s everything you want from a Hangover film, yet better.

Lon Lopez

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