The Hangover, Part II

Posted on May 25, 2011 at 11:15 am

What’s it called again when you suffer the morning-after consequences of a wild night of extravagent, if debauched, fun?  Oh yes, a hangover.

This second night out with the wolf pack of Phil (Bradley Cooper), Stu (Ed Helms), and Alan (Zach Galifianakis), suffers from sequelitis, that headache-y uncertainty about exactly what it was that worked the last time and inability to make its premise seem fresh.  It feels as stale as the air in the squalid hotel room our heroes find themselves in with no idea of how they got there.  But it will still do as a taste of the hair of the dog.  The laughs may be fewer and  the gasps more “ewww” than “wow,” but there is still some pleasure in seeing those guys suffer.

A couple of years have passed and Stu is about to get married, not to the stripper he wed in Las Vegas in the first movie but to a lovely girl named Lauren (Jamie Chung).  As a tribute to her heritage, the wedding is going to take place in  Thailand.  Stu insists that brunch at IHOP with Phil and Doug (Justin Bartha) is all the bachelor party he wants (and he puts a napkin over his orange juice glass just to make sure no  one is slipping him a roofy this time).  But Doug persuades Stu to invite his brother-in-law Alan, and they are joined by Lauren’s 16-year-old brother, Teddy (Mason Lee), a prodigy who plays cello and is pre-med at Stanford.

Two nights before the wedding, after Lauren’s father insults Stu in a toast, the guys agree to have one drink on the beach before bed.  And Stu, Phil, and Alan wake up the next morning, as they did in the first one, with no memory of what happened the night before and a lot of incontrovertible evidence that what did happen was dangerous, probably criminal, and certainly disgusting.  Stu’s face bears the Maori tattoo they saw in the last movie on Mike Tyson.  There is a severed finger that appears to belong to Teddy, who is missing.  In his place is their old nemsis, Mr. Chow (Ken Jeong).  And instead of the last film’s tiger, there is a monkey wearing a Rolling Stones jean jacket.

They have somehow found themselves in Bangkok, and their search for Teddy involves an aged mute monk in a wheelchair, an American tattoo artist, a strip club, Russian drug dealers, some panicked phone calls, a Molotov cocktail, and both human and animal gun shot wounds.

The trick in comedies like this one is to find the sweet spot between the familiar and the surprising and between the shocking and the disturbing.  It misses.  Some in the audience will be happy to see the structure of the original repeated but most will wish for something new.  And the key to comedy is the “almost,” the ability to have it both ways by making sure the chaos is disruptive but not conclusively so.  Trashy is good.  Tawdry, not so much.  And aren’t we a couple of decades past finding humor in homosexual panic?

There are some very funny moments, with a hilarious password joke, Stu’s version of “Alan-town,”  and some deliciously weird comments from Galifianakis and Jeong.  But it misses the sense of genuine connection between the characters we just saw in “Bridesmaids.”  The first one ended with a satisfying sense of lessons learned.  This one should end with an intervention.


Parents should know that this film has extremely strong, provocative, and intentionally offensive material including constant very strong language, explicit sexual references and situations, graphic male, female, and trans nudity, drinking, drug use (cocaine), characters in peril and injured, chases, and guns.

Family discussion: Should Stu tell Lauren what happened?  Why is watching so many awful things happen to these characters funny?  Should there be a third one?

If you like this, try: the first “Hangover” movie and the original “The In-Laws”

Related Tags:


Comedy Series/Sequel

10 Replies to “The Hangover, Part II”

  1. Tim and Monkie — I am removing your comments. Tim, I have repeatedly asked you not to continue this discussion, which has been thoroughly covered. Your views are clear. I do not see any evidence of genuine engagement, only repetition. I do not feel that it is constructive or appropriate. I will no longer permit your comments on the relative portrayal of nudity in films and I ask you not to post on that topic any more. I welcome your comments on other matters. Please respect my rule on this. Monkie, your comment was appropriate but I removed it because it relates to Tim’s.

    Dave — I removed your comment as well because, like Tim’s, I consider it repetitive and without any further benefit on a topic that has already been thoroughly discussed on the site. Furthermore, it violates the rules of courteous disagreement and my prohibition on insult.

  2. Tim–if these movies with male nudity upset you so much, there is a simple solution–don’t attend them. I don’t spend my money on films that offend me. I have no interest in gross out commedies, period. So I skipped The Hangover I & II and Bridesmaids. I don’t like torture porn, so I don’t got to the Saw or Hostel movies. It’s that simple.

    However, Kung Fu Panda 2 looks like a fun family movie, so I will spend my hard earned cash on that one. I really liked the first one.

  3. Funny you should say that Allison, because that is actually where I am headed. I enjoyed the first Kung Fu Panda, so I hope to enjoy this one as well.

  4. I did not see “Hangover” and I have no intention of seeing “Hangover Part 11.” I do not find males acting like raunchy idiots to be enjoyable. I also have no respect for Todd Philips for displaying graphic male nudity.I do not find monkeys and transgender individuals involved in sexual situations to be humorous. I also find the MPAA to be a worthless organization for allowing extremely graphic pictures to be shown in the credits.

  5. I would assume that my latest comment should be allowed. It is a valid comment on the film but hopefully within what you are accepting.

  6. The Hangover Part 2 is racist towards Asian people. I say we Asians boycott this film and show Hollywood that we won’t tolerate their discrimination any longer. In fact, I’ve created a website for that purpose:

    It’s meant to be used as a petition. Please comment on the site to pledge that you will not watch the Hangover Part 2 or any movies similar to it.

    1. Ken, I respect your concerns but I cannot respect the judgment of anyone who has not seen and refuses to see the movie before commenting on it. Most of the people in the movie who were the targets of humor were white. There were a number of Asian characters and while some were caricatured comic figures, some were perfectly ordinary people portrayed with respect. Same with the white characters. The movie includes a lot of provocative humor, some offensive, but I do not think it is racist. Unless you are willing to see it and comment based on your own reaction to what you have seen, I do not think you should express an opinion or ask others to stay away from the film.

  7. Im Asian and have seen both Hangover 1 and II. definitely didnt see the racism against Asian on Hangover II. even Allan’s, “Thank you all you Asiatic people” was hilarious, not racist. I think it showcased the beauty of Asia more than anything else..but maybe thats just me.

    1. Thanks so much, Red. That was my reaction, too, but it means so much more to hear that you saw it that way.

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