The Hangover (reviewed here) was a modern comedy classic. The Hangover Part II is an unneeded but totally expected cash-in on the mega-success of the first. If you think it's going to be pretty much the same movie, but in a new location with a few twists, you're right.
This time the Wolf Pack is in Thailand for Ed Helm's wedding to Jamie Chung. How the dopey dentist scored such a hot babe isn't explained and frankly doesn't make sense. Whatever. Her dad hates Ed and insults him at the welcoming dinner. If this guy is so rich, why is he allowing his little girl to marry Ed. (No, I don't hate Ed. I'm just saying.) One thing leads to another and the trio wake up in a seedy Bangkok hotel room with a shaved head (Zach Galiafinakis or however he spells it), a Mike Tyson tattoo on his face (Ed), and otherwise looking dashing and handsome (Bradley Cooper). They're also missing the bride's little brother, but they've got his finger, so that's a start. Wait, what?
The element of surprise in the first one is missing this time. What made the original so clever was that the audience found out what was going on as the guys did. This time, others always seem to have the answers so if anyone had wanted to stop them and explain what had happened, well, there wouldn't be a movie, would there? As a result, beyond the new setting, director Todd Phillips and gang resort to a darker, meaner brand of humor which strays into disturbing territory enough that it gets a little scary which makes it less funny. We're down with watching these idiots get run through the wringer, but some of the stuff that happens gets pretty dark.
I saw a review bagging on Zach's performance and the character of Alan in general; basically saying that Zach is obviously so dangerous and stupid that there is no way in hell anyone would willingly hang out with him, especially with his track record of mayhem. That's pretty much right, because Zach has been really milking his time in the spotlight to push his weird humor. While that's always been his bag, I'm starting to sense he thinks it's really impressive when the charm before was he didn't seem aware that he was odd and that's what was funny about him.
On the plus side is Ken Jeong who is back as the manic Chow, the naked guy who jumped out of the trunk in the first one. He's still having clothing issues and I hope for his wife's sake he's not really hung, as Detroit punk poet Jimmy Doom would say, like a startled hamster, but he brings a zany angle that somewhat balances the meaner tone elsewhere. Jeong too has used The Hangover to springboard to bigger things (like Community on NBC), but he's lovably daffy unlike Zach's "keep the taser handy" comedy.
Ultimately, The Hangover Part II isn't a disaster - I laughed a lot - but it's just so lacking in ambition or purpose that it's hard to recommend it heartily. There is no real reason for it to exist other than make some more money and with an opening weekend gross of $135 million during the five-day Memorial Day weekend and a current worldwide take of $563 million, that's a big mission accomplished.
Score: 7/10. Catch it on cable.