Kernel rating (out of 5):
Length: 102 minutes
MPAA Rating: R
Age Appropriate for: 17+
If people could die of laughter, this review would have been written by a ghost. ‘The Hangover Part II’ is now in theaters. Adults, rejoice.
By Roxana Hadadi
Since “The Hangover” was released in June 2009, I’ve waited. I’ve been patient. I’ve rapidly become impatient. I stalked production photos and trailers. I read every rumor about possible cameos from Bill Clinton and Liam Neeson. I’ve used any opportunity to look at pictures of Bradley Cooper and pretend it’s for “work.” And two years later, “The Hangover Part II” is finally here — and it’s glorious.
This sequel could have so easily slipped into awful, merely a rehashing of the bad-boys-in-Vegas events of “The Hangover,” which made a staggering $467 million at the box office, becoming the highest-grossing R-rated comedy of all time in the U.S. Compared to other R-rated films that came after the first film, “The Hangover Part II” could have been as uninspired as “Hall Pass,” or as abrasive as “Your Highness,” or as unevenly cute as “Cedar Rapids.” It could have been too repetitive. It could have been too boring. It could have been dirty and raunchy and explicit just for the sake of being dirty and raunchy and explicit. And don’t worry — it is dirty, raunchy and explicit, but it’s all wonderful, all hilarious, all a spectacular one-upping of the film that came before without veering into absurdly unbelievable territory.
Movies are, at their core, meant to entertain, and if “The Hangover” did that for you, get ready for cramps and a stomachache after watching “The Hangover Part II.” It’s that uproarious, that good, and that totally inappropriate for most teens. Teenagers who weren’t old enough to see the original “Hangover” and are now 17 are probably clamoring to see “Part II,” but they should know this is numerous steps beyond “American Pie” and other youth-focused ilk. The film is set in Bangkok, Thailand, and there’s so much here that deserves the R rating: prolific cursing, drug use, excessive alcohol consumption, a dismembered finger, a bloody tattoo appointment, implied sexual situations and tons of nudity — of topless women, bottomless men and transgender strippers. Be aware, parents: Do not give in to your 13- and 14-year-old sons asking to see this movie as an end-of-the-school-year treat! Stay strong!
If you’re old enough, though, get ready for “The Hangover Part II” experience. It basically follows the same format as the first flick, beginning with a sweaty, disheveled Phil (Cooper) calling his friend Doug’s wife, Tracy (Sasha Barrese), and admitting defeat: “It happened again,” he says, and immediately we know what’s up. The frequently obscene straight man Phil, the unkempt and irreverent Alan (Zach Galifianakis) and the flabbergasted groom-to-be Stu (Ed Helms) have no memory of what happened last night in Thailand, where Stu plans to get married to his fiancée Lauren (Jamie Chung). A friend is lost, seemingly disappeared into the seedy underbelly of Bangkok. And with Stu’s wedding less than two days away, they’re faced with the seemingly impossible task of piecing together the previous night’s events while also ensuring that Stu does indeed get hitched. Cue the bombastic hip-hop music used between scenes; Stu’s frustrated outbursts directed at nearly everyone; Alan’s aloof-yet-defensive personality; Phil’s frank shrugs at the insanity of it all. We’ve seen this all before, and yet we haven’t. We shouldn’t want more of it, but yet we do.
If you play out the scenes in “The Hangover Part II” and compare them to its predecessor, you’ll end up with most of the same stuff: Stu sings, the trio gets viciously attacked by strangers, they attract a helpless sidekick, they tangle with international criminals, they run into prostitutes. Doug (Justin Bartha) is generally absent from the proceedings; “Hangover” villain Mr. Chow (Ken Jeong) is simultaneously a friend and foe, doing way too much cocaine but working his former enemies over with his peculiar sort of friendliness.
But the familiarity isn’t tedious — instead, it’s like the best inside joke ever, reminiscent of kicking it with a best friend you haven’t seen in a while but who still understands everything that will make you laugh. The signs of an increased budget and an awareness that plot developments have to get crazier are also welcome arrivals, translating into beautiful shots of Thailand’s islands and gritty depictions of Bangkok, as well as a supercharged car chase scene and an unforgettable trip to one of the city’s numerous strip clubs.
Most of what will make you laugh is vulgar and relentless, sly and uncompromising. From bachelor brunches to revelations about Stu’s sexual preferences to the nonchalant way Alan bosses around his parents and talks up his role as a “stay-at-home son,” the laughs are like sucker-punches and roundhouse kicks. They’ll leave you breathless, invigorated and already looking forward to the next time you’ll see “The Hangover Part II.”