I do agree with almost anyone who has seen Hangover Part II that it is basically a remake of the first Hangover. The plot points are almost copy and paste. But the jokes in Part II are overwhelmingly funnier, often darker and surprisingly not that repetitive. The Hangover Part II is better than the first one. Hands down.
The first one seems almost lighthearted when compared to Part II. Instead of wacky cops, bubbly strippers, and an adorable baby; Part II offers us a severed finger, hard drugs and a hefty dose of full frontal male nudity. While you figure no one is going to die in a comedy movie, the threat of death actually looms gloriously over the Wolfpack as they stumble through Bangkok.
Zach Galifianakis had his breakout mainstream role in the first Hangover, then went on to drive that schtick into the dirt over the next two years (hitting an absolute low with Due Date). This schtick was so powerful it nearly overshadowed him actually doing a few good roles (It’s Kind of a Funny Story, Bored to Death), and like all successful comedians (sans Dave Chappelle), he became hated. After sitting through Dinner for Schmucks, even I joined that hate bandwagon a little bit. But for some reason, his character of Alan in the Hangover Part II got him back in my good graces. I don’t know if there’s anything different in his mannerisms from the roles I hated, maybe a subtle facial movement, I’m not sure, but Zach was once again annoying YET funny. Maybe it was the fact that this was the ORIGINAL annoying character of his, or perhaps the countless epic blank stares in the first 20 minutes (including an extended staring shot on an airplane that goes on perfectly long, that was perhaps one of my favorite single shots in any comedy movie in the last decade), but I guess I’m just taking the long way to saying Zach Galifianakis is once again funny to me.
But he didn’t even steal the show in this one. Ed Helms has never been better. He’s had an awesome first half of the year with two great performances in two great comedies; this and Cedar Rapids. They are roles that make me happily forget that he plays Andy Bernard on The Office. Hangover Part II seems to shit on his character the most throughout, and watching Helms crumble and maniacally weep over countless misfortunes is a delight. Chow the Asian drug dealer is back with a much bigger, while also surprisingly less annoying performance. He’s still kind of annoying, but I will admit he got some big laughs from me out of this one. He can have a pass from me for a while for what he’s doing as Senor Chang on Community. He doesn’t need to Chang his act quite yet. Bradley Cooper was there… Nothing too impressive about his job in this one, actually. I suppose he’s always good for an Alan homoerotic obsession joke here and there.
The fear over the monkey ruining the movie was overblown. The monkey is not a deal breaker, and doesn’t wreck the movie, but at the same time doesn’t really do anything for it, either. Would I have preferred no monkey? Yes. I consider a monkey wearing human clothes to be about as lame in a comedy as an over-articulate child or a super profane grandma. I’ll admit I couldn’t help but laugh during the beginning of the monkey’s “Pusherman” montage, but aside from that, it’s only in the movie for 15 minutes, and no one should avoid the movie because there’s a cliché ridden monkey character wearing a jean jacket. I’m sure in the next Hangover, Alan will befriend a talking parrot or something stupid, but it won’t end up being a big deal much like the monkey or the baby from the first one weren’t.
If you liked the first Hangover, you can assume you’ll like Part II. If you don’t like Part II simply because you thought it was just a rehash of the first one, and you like the first one for its originality, then you’ve got your priorities wrong. I can say I laughed more during this Part II, and at the very least had a smile on my face for 90% of the movie. Comedy is very subjective, and people will always hate things just to avoid being mainstream. I’ve never had that problem. I like what I like. And Hangover Part II was pretty god damn funny.
8.5 out of 10