The Hangover 2 Review: Pass The Berocca…


hangover300THE HANGOVER 2 (15): On General Release Friday 27th May

Sequels are difficult things to do well at the best of times, but comedy follow-ups can be especially tricky. Indeed their very existence is evidence that the shoes they are stepping into are as large as they are funny. Like a bloke who finds out that his new girlfriend’s ex was not only in a rock band, but carried off an eyebrow piercing without looking like a tit, many reprisals find the level of expectation difficult to match. The real trick is to recreate the magic of the first outing, while developing characters and moving the story along. The Hangover 2 makes no attempt to do so, but despite its decline, this shameless rehash still manages to land some decent punches. Maybe Mike Tyson’s cameo was more symbolic than we thought?

It may not be as good as its forerunner, but it doesn’t deserve to be battered like a liver on a Thai stag weekend. Unlike last time, we all know exactly what we’re signing up for, yet while Todd Phillips warned us not to expect much in the way of character development from his lovably cohesive wolfpack, we didn’t realise that he was simply planning to trot out exactly the same film on a different continent.

Once again we start with the hapless groomsmen at the end of their bender, this time atop a Bangkok skyscraper. Phil (Bradley Cooper), Stu (Ed Helms) and Alan (Zach Galifianakis) are in Thailand for Stu’s wedding. Doug (2009’s lost groom) is also there but apparently the leading triumvirate’s comedy aura is rather sacred so he’s effectively forced to sit this one out as well. After planning to go for just one pre-wedding beer on the beach, the trio wake up in a soiled hotel room, with a monkey, a face tattoo, a severed finger and no memory of what came before. Oh and they’ve also lost Teddy, Stu’s Ivy League-attending, violin-playing future brother-in-law. With the help of their crazy car-boot dwelling pal Chow, they try to piece together what happened the night before and find their friend in another get-me-to-the-church on time chase.

The film will stand up against most competition as a good comedy, but it does not rival its forerunner for stealthy brilliance. The secret ingredient for any good movie is the element of surprise and Phillips worked that angle to perfection a couple of years back. We weren’t expecting much more than another fratstick bachelor romp in 2009, but instead we got a very alternative take on a battered genre which had chemistry, wit and originality. The Hangover 2 plays exactly the same hand yet while this sequel still delivers some fine moments, the trick isn’t as impressive the second time round and the unpredictable raucousness which punctured the first one is sadly absent. Revealing the face tattoo in the trailers was also a squandered opportunity…

However while it can not bear comparison, Phillips’ follow-up is a good comedy in its own right. Galifianakis slips into his favourite gear as Doug’s semi-special needs brother Alan and effortlessly steals the show once again with his joyfully idiosyncratic delivery. There are also some excellent visual gems amid the drug-fuelled carnage (one of the lads ends up with a ladyboy in a hilarious side tangent) but the laughs don’t flow as fluidly as last time out. It’s almost as if Mike Tyson’s cameo is a microcosm for the film itself. In The Hangover his appearance was well-judged and perfectly pitched, but in this one it feels like an awkward afterthought.

Just like when Macaulay Culkin’s parents abandoned him AGAIN in Home Alone 2, you might be left struggling to grasp the notion that history has repeated itself so implausibly. There’s also a good deal to be said regarding the various girlfriends involved. Any man who’s had any kind of relationship with a real woman will know that turning up late to your wedding with a facial disfigurement (twice!) is unlikely to earn you a smile and a hug. In fact the only person who seems annoyed by the feckless party animals is Stu’s sneery father-in-law, who has a role so two-dimensional that it borders on scripting-by-numbers. While we may have been able to overlook these minor gripes last time, it’s difficult to do so when the comedy isn’t banging. Which leads me back to the problems involved with making a sequel…