There’s only so much you can say about a sequel to The Hangover, the mega-comedy blockbuster that gave birth to a whole slew of quotable goodies, such as “Not at the table, Carlos,” “IN DA FACE!” and “Rain Man was a reh-tard.” I could go on forever, but it’s best you just watch the movie again. The misadventures of the now infamous “Wolf Pack,” starring Bradley Cooper, Ed helms, Justin Bartha, and of course, Zack Galafianakis is the stuff of film legend. The actors, under the helm of director Todd Phillips, build a dynamic that is reminiscent of every great comedic team-up since films started having comedic team ups. There’s nothing like a group of mismatched characters all jolted into a situation together. Especially one that involves a piecing together of a night that they can’t remember.
The first Hangover had me rolling with laughter. I enjoyed it immensely and will leave it on HBO anytime I see it’s on. I can jump in at anytime. That doesn’t mean it’s universal, though. I have met many people, even some who I actually respect, who abhor it. I think that they hit their head or something, but whatev. Some peeps just don’t get into the Hangover. If you’re one of them, then Hangover 2 will be no different. May as well check out of my review now. Sorry, no refunds.
For those that are hungry for another dose of “The Wolf Pack,” then you are in for a special treat. They are all back in full form, which is half the battle of a sequel. I have heard many people complain about this, saying, “Well, it’s just like the first one.” Well, no shit, Sherlock. I mean, I didn’t want to see a Hangover 2 that has them trapped in a museum where the exhibitions come to life. I wanted to see more of the same, just in a different setting with more of the crazy hijinks of the characters. It’s a sequel, not an entirely different movie. Get over it, you hatorade drinking babies. Go watch your Adam Sandler comedies and leave the fun stuff to us grownups.
Hangover 2 is definitely the Empire Strikes Back of this proposed trilogy. It’s darker, more sadistic, and with way more penis. Okay, so that’s not a lot like Star Wars, but still. Set in Thailand, specifically Bangkok, we find the “pack” preparing to see Stu (Ed Helms) get married to his Asian girlfriend. Along for the celebration are Phil (Bradley Cooper) and Alan (Zack G.), as well as Justin Bartha who has an even smaller role this time out. Ken Jeong returns as Mr. Chow, the gangster from Las Vegas in the first film, who takes on a much larger role. Jeong hams it up in each scene, easily stealing it from anyone else there.
Many of the same story beats are here, just played out in many different ways. This is in no way a bad thing. I was not looking for them to reinvent the wheel here. I would’ve been more upset had they tried to altar the formula too much, creating a movie that was very much NOT the Hangover 2. Audiences typically complain about the “magic” missing from the characters and setting in sequels. Here, Hangover delivers in spades, but is blasted for it. There’s just no pleasing everyone and I’m sure that there are fans of the first one that didn’t care for the sequel. That’s just the way it goes.
For me, however, The Wolf Pack owns, and I enjoyed every minute of watching their lives unravel as they discovered the shit they went through the night before. Bradley Cooper plays the straight man just fine again, whereas Ed Helms character is kicked up a notch, and I found him to be much funnier this time out. Zack G. simply slays it. If he only ever played Alan (which he kind of does in most roles, which is just a variation of himself anyways) then I’d be fine with that. His off-kilter humor and odd quips are the through line of the Hangover films. He sets the standard from the get go. Even as I was walking out of the theater with my wife we were quoting parts of the movie back to each other and laughing aloud. It’s not an instant classic necessarily, but it holds up well to the original (which I still think is better) and provides all the laughs you’d expect. There are even some surprises, a few comedic WTF moments that had me in stitches, none of which were seen in the original. If you were a fan of the original, then this is for you. If you aren’t, steer clear. You are not meant for The Wolf Pack.
SUMMER MOVIE SCORE: 7/10