Comedy sequels are a hard one. If any comedy shows any sign of popularity you can bet that an inferior sequel is just around the corner ready to rack up the cash once more. Usually three things can happen:
1/ They get it right in that they expand on the story/characters, bring something new to the table and still create something fun and original (Bill and Ted's Bogus Journey, American Pie 2, Austin Powers 2, Wayne's World 2...)
2/ They get it almost right, in other words the filmmakers didn't quite get what people liked about the first film so they did pretty much the same thing but with slight differences or a different setting. Usually that doesn't quite work but makes the sequel feel fresh enough that fans of the original film can still enjoy it (Ace Ventura 2, Ghostbusters 2...)
3/ They get it wrong...(Splash Too)
Hangover II falls under the second category: more of the same but oddly considerably darker and...in Thailand.
This time Stu (Ed Helms) loses his fiancee's little brother in Bangkok and the gang once again are on a desperate quest to put the pieces of their brains back together to find the kid before his big wedding.
The reviews haven't exactly been glowing for this one even if it did deliver at the box-office but althought the complaints are usually valid this is still a fun film. Now I'm not sure if the new setting works in the film's favour as Bangkok seems to bring out the worst in our familiar characters. Zach Galifiniakis' weirdo Alan starts off glorious then is strangely reduced to a wimpering child wandering silently in the background, Stu screams throughout, Phil (Bradley Cooper) stereotypes like hell and Ken Jeong is more horrendous a creation than ever.
On top of that some of Todd Phillips' darker humour comes off as more disturbing than funny in a lot of places. Paul Giamatti's cameo is just plain intimidating, the guys get shot, cheat with gender-bending prostitutes, dump dead bodies in ice boxes, get their fingers cut off... If it weren't for Alan this would be one unpleasant thriller! Then again if smoking monkeys and tiny penises sound appealing to you then you're in for a treat!
As it stands though there are admittedly a lot of funny bits here and there which do keep you watching and in the end it's a fun ride, you just have to be ready for it. A clever little ending twist and some smart plot-points do elevate it above the original film from a detective-style movie standpoint at least.
Overall, fans of the original will find loads to enjoy but will no doubt complain about the copy/paste premise, others will probably go either way. It's not the first one but it works just about well enough to give you a fun night out at the movies, that is if you have a slightly twisted sense of humour to begin with.
Curious to see what they do with Part III...I'm actually scared for these guys' safety now...
I only hope they leave Mike Tyson and his "singing" alone this time.