Movie Review: The Hangover II- A Shamelessly Duplicated and Predictable Plot That Offers Rigid and Lazy Comedy

As the opening of Todd Phillips sequel to the highly overrated film The Hangover opens up there is an uncomfortable sense of déjà vu. Everything from the vague opening to the flashback to a previous time is reminiscent of the first installment of the investigative debauchery comedy that came out just two years ago. And the final realization that you’ve been scammed comes near the middle of the movie once you know you can guess every clue, see every joke coming from miles away, and become so bored with the predictability of the script since it’s just a copy and paste job taken from the first Hangover. In fact, this is done so shamelessly it’s quite surprising that one of the pictures in the end credits wasn’t director Todd Phillips pulling a Wesley Gibson by giving everyone in the audience the middle finger. There is no creative driving factor in making the Hangover Pt. II but only the whorish peddling for a big pay check since the producers and filmmakers behind the first film know the film will draw in the summer crowd desperate for a laugh. Well good luck searching for it among the repetitive script, the lazy joke construction, and lack of comedic ingenuity and ultimately being stuck with a movie that is as dreary and uncomfortable as experiencing an actual hangover. Considering that this writing team, and Todd Phillips, had every possibility and production luxury at their fingertips just makes this humorless film all the more disappointing.

Supposing the philosophy on concocting the story for The Hangover II was “if it isn’t broke, don’t bother fixing it” it would have probably been better to follow the better philosophy of “if it isn’t broke, don’t butcher it.” The exact formula of the first Hangover is copied and pasted onto the pages for the second only changing up a few details such as location just to try and make it feel different. What isn’t copied from the first film was that minuscule freshness to a familiar plot and dynamic characters that allowed us to willingly descend into their drug driven chaos. The first Hangover was beyond a doubt overrated but that wasn’t because of its focus on introducing us to new characters that had us involved with them due to their unique introductions and specific character types. This essential vibrant element is lost in the second installment mostly because we know these characters already; there is no mystery to how they’ll react or what they might end up doing in their intoxicated state. This just means that the characters end up doing exactly what we expect them to do as though it was predetermined. Now the only reason to watch these guys go through the exact same scenario, only with slightly modified details, is due to a sadistic schadenfreude ingrained in most movie going audiences. We love witnessing a car wreck as long as it isn’t us, but the simple fact is that the film itself is the car wreck and the actors involved are just mere passengers following a poorly written and lazily constructed script that is just utterly reprehensible.

Comedy is supposed to be free flowing and the very fact that the Hangover II is locked into a familiar rigid format restricts any possibility for the actors to do something different with their already determined roles. When you can guess each joke as they are blatantly prepared to be served the whole experience becomes bland and lacks that bit of ingenuity that was at least present in the first installment. This is also a huge detriment to the experience because knowing how outrageous it’s going to be defeats the entire purpose of being outrageous. Todd Phillips is no comedic extraordinaire. In fact, his last film Due Date was just an exaggerated remake of Planes, Trains, and Automobiles. But even that film contained a certain personality that offered a few good laughs due mostly to the talents of Robert Downey Jr. The Hangover II just feels like it didn’t even try to do anything different and it’s a major disappointment considering the talents of the cast, the limitless opportunities with a guaranteed high budget, and the success of the predecessor. The Hangover II could have been another fun ride into the depths of depravity and the regrets (or lack thereof) that follow. Instead it is just a duplicated plot that doesn’t utilize possible character arcs and saturates the idea of outrageous comedy by being exactly what we expect it to be, which is the exact opposite of the first film’s experience.

Grade: D+

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