Hangover 2: The Wolf Pack Strikes Back

Unbeknown to anyone else besides myself, at the beginning of the year I decided there were a total of three movies I was really looking forward to in 2011.  The first, not a critics choice by any means, has already came and went.   Of course, I’m talking about the Independence Day sequel (joking),  Battle: Los Angeles.  Unlike the majority of critics, I was able to enjoy myself immensely throughout the film.   Wait!   That doesn’t sound right.  Anyway, the second is Transformers: Dark of the Moon.  Why am I looking forward to this?  Well, being a huge fan of the first film, I’m really curious to see if Michael Bay can knock this one out of the ballpark and totally redeem himself for that POS he put out in 2009 or if he will fail miserably much like most of his horror produced films do. However, neither one of these two flicks compare to the loving endearment, combustible spark (the All Spark) and the overwhelming anticipation I have reserved in my heart for The Hangover: Part II.  And that ladies and gentlemen, is the reason we are all here today…duh…to celebrate the gospel of The Hangover once again.

The Hangover: Part II stars the infamous wolf pack members Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms and Zach Galifianakis.   In addition, many familiar faces return such as Justin Bartha, Jeffrey Tambor, Bryan Callen, funny man Ken Jeong and even the notorious Iron Mike Tyson.   Todd Phillips once again helms this project directing a script written by himself Craig Mazin and Scot Armstrong.  I don’t know about you folks, but without seeing this feature, all these names already sound like a recipe for instant success.

Perhaps, for me, the oddest thing about this film is the fact that it was green lit for a sequel two months before the original Hangover film was even released.   That’s kind of unheard of, in my opinion, for a film that no one has even seen yet.   In all honesty, the trailer of the first film didn’t even sell me on it.   It was really just word of mouth.   But for whatever reason, the stars perfectly aligned and test audiences ate up the original’s recipe for disaster and comedic mayhem and nevertheless, here we are today!  I’m definitely not complaining by any means.   There’s nowhere else I would rather be in this moment and time then to be writing about this second adventure in a foreign land I know little about (ironically my wife is in Thailand right now as I write this…weird).

The problem with a sequel, in this case to the number one grossing R-rated comedy of all-time, is the fact that you somehow have to live up to the original film and unless your production is titled The Empire Strikes Back, that’s usually very difficult to do.  So the ultimate question must have been addressed at some point or another.   How do you do it?   Do you play it safe and go with a carbon copy formula that made the original so successful or do you depart from that recipe and drop the wolf pack into some new kind of hectic dilemma?   Ultimately, the producers felt that in the case of The Hangover, it was best to let the boys romp in a tried, tested and already played out scenario, but maybe shake up the terrain a bit.   And again…that’s exactly why we are gathered here today…to see whether or not the gamble essentially paid off.  And…

The Hangover: Part II finds our three leading guys traveling to Thailand for Stu’s (Helms) wedding.  However, after the debacle they went through in Vegas a few years back, Stu has opted for a a safe and low key brunch outing before their departure.  This is his bachelor party, nothing more and nothing less.  If only things were that easy for the wolf pack.   Of course I don’t wish that!   Bring on the mayhem and comedic hijinks already!   Ha ha, rest assured you will find precisely what you are looking for when things don’t go exactly as planned for the guys and they lose the 16-year old brother (Mason Lee) of Stu’s fiancee, Lauren (the gorgeous Jamie Chung), and somehow wakeup in Bangkok.   Alright!   That’s more like it.   Here’s where things really get good…oops…I mean bad for the guys (service with a smile).

So here’s the deal.  I’m sure a lot of critics are going to say this so I’m sorry if I sound a wee bit repetitive in my delivery here.   If you did not like the first Hangover film, then this second outing is not going to convert you into an instant fan.  However, if you were a fan of the first one, like me, then I can see you appreciating this for what it is.   What is it?  It’s a romping crude and offensive good time through the streets of Thailand like only we can expect from the wolf pack we all know and love.   Did you expect anything less?   Well, I think the important thing to note here is not to expect anything more.  What I mean by that is the following.   Remember me asking how do you top the original film and ultimately telling you how the producers dropped these three lovable fellows into a similar scenario?  Well, that’s just it.   It’s too familiar.   It’s too familiar to the point where it’s literally just a carbon copy (I’m sorry I keep using this word) of the first film with all the exact same twists, turns and plot points intact.   Everything is executed in duplicity.   Even the resolution!  While that might be okay with simpletons like me, that’s going to drive promising filmmakers into a feverish uprise.  I mean, who gets the chance to make the same movie twice?  Someone that has the highest gross R-rated comedy ever…that’s who.

Let’s be honest.  It really all does come down to how much you liked the original film, doesn’t it?  All the players are the same.   The wolf pack is still the same lovable bunch of guys you relished in the first film.   Phil is suave as ever.   Alan is as dumb, or dumber, as he has always been.  And Stu is still a dentist…LOL…who calls himself a doctor.   Although, we cannot forget Doug.  He’s still MIA as usual.   Thats a shame too.   I would really love to see his character utilized more the next time around.   Yep, that’s right…you heard me right.   It’s not a question as to whether a third installment will happen, it’s when will it happen.   I can only hope soon.   As repetitive as this sequel is, I still hold a warm place in my heart for the misfit adventures of these instantly, IMO, likable characters.   And as storytellers, that’s all we care about, right?   If someone has nothing but fondness for your characters, you can do and place them anywhere you want, no matter how repetitive the situation is.   You have a fan base that’s not going anywhere.   While I challenge Todd Phillips to stray a little bit in the third outing, I know as long as Phil, Stu and Alan are there…so will I.

Maybe my expectations were a little too high going into this, but I can’t help feeling like a second visit is in store for me soon.   I didn’t laugh as hard as I thought I would, but maybe a repeat visit is just what the doctor ordered.  For me, it really all comes down to this.  In the end, I feel that The Hangover: Part II didn’t land the necessary jabs, punches and body blows to beat the magic and innocence of Insidious this year, but I feel pretty confident in the fact that it will get many repeat visits from me (theatrically and on Blu-ray) and will ultimately end up being one of my favorite comedies of 2011.  Do yourself a favor.  Go and get lost this Memorial Day weekend with Stu and the gang.   What do you have to lose?  The wolf pack will strip you of your dignity…in a very good way (although too familiar).  Now go!



Owner/Writer/Reviewer/Editor, Dreamer, Producer, Agent of Love, Film Lover, Writer of Screenplays and a Devoted Apostle to all things Ford Mustangs (the real ones with V8's!). Some of my favorite films include FIGHT CLUB, MOULIN ROUGE, THE DARK KNIGHT, STAR WARS alongside television shows such as SEINFELD, 24, SANFORD & SON and even the often loathed in the geek community BIG BANG THEORY. Outside of my three lives I live I also enjoy spending time with my girlfriend and our three girls (of the furry kind).

3 Responses to “Hangover 2: The Wolf Pack Strikes Back”

  1. Gregg

    Going today! I have to agree on the notion that the trailer for the first film didn’t do anything for me either. I saw a lame movie in that trailer. Then after it was out about 3 weeks, I gave it a bash. Wait a minute…didn’t I go with you to see it?? Anyway, it turned out to be one of the greatest comedies I’ve ever seen, right up there with “See No Evil, Hear No Evil,” “Get Him to the Greek” and “A Night in Casablanca.” While it may not be my favorite comedy, I have yet to come across one as clever as “The Hangover.”

  2. Jiminy Critic

    This one didn’t do it for me… same old, same old, with extra raunch… don’t get me wrong, these guys have a chemistry, a connection, a whatever it is… It’s just that I wanted that feeling from the first movie, and I didn’t get it here…

  3. Gregg

    I feel the EXACT same way, Jiminy. There have even been times when I didn’t want to watch the first Hangover, but for whatever reason, did anyway. In those moments, I never felt distanced as I did today. This movie was a big disappointment. I didn’t expect it to be as good as its predecessor, but I sure as heck expected a whole lot more than what I saw. Boooooo. I hope they don’t decide to make a third one just for the sake of completing a trilogy. Let it rest with the first one; a comedic masterpiece.