REVIEW: Wolf Pack Doesn't Have Much Bite in 'Hangover II'

The Wolf Pack is back and this time their fangs have been filed down to dull and weak little nubs. Director/writer Todd Phillips obviously went with the motto, ‘If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,’ which ultimately becomes the fatal flaw for “The Hangover Part II.”

The sequel to the 2009 smash hit mimics its predecessor’s formula verbatim, from its flashback narrative form to the shenanigans the pack finds themselves in. Part of the first film’s success was due to the unexpected twists and turns. But, by following the same exact formula as the first film, “The Hangover Part II” has no surprises. The gags are similar and the characters end up in the same situations, thus stripping the film of the charm, hilarity and originality of the first Hangover.

For their second inebriated adventure, Doug (Justin Bartha), Phil (Bradley Cooper) and Alan (Zach Galifianakis) ditch Las Vegas for the exotic backdrop of Thailand for Stu’s (Ed Helms) wedding to Lauren (Jamie Chung). Along for the ride is Stu’s future brother-in-law, Teddy (Mason Lee), who Alan finds to be an immediate threat to their Wolf Pack.

The pre-hangover scenes have a serious intensity to them, not unlike the setup to a 1970’s Irwin Allen disaster film or a well-crafted haunted house thriller. A well-paced anxiety builds with the knowledge that our beloved Wolf Pack is going to get into some serious trouble. And, yes, they do.

You would expect that having Bangkok as the backdrop to “The Hangover Part II” would provide a plethora of unique Thailand-centric problems for the guys, but disappointingly, the location is irrelevant to the plot.

Like the first film, the Wolf Pack wakes up after a forgotten night of drunken debauchery, this time in a sleazy Bangkok hotel room. To add to their dilemma, Teddy, Stu’s future brother-in-law is missing and the guys need to find him in time before the big wedding. The only evidence they have to go on is what appears to be Teddy’s severed finger.

This time, instead of losing a tooth, Stu wakes to a Mike Tyson tattoo etched into his face, Alan is missing his locks and straight man Phil is in charge of leading the investigation once more. Sorry, Doug, you get to sit this one out…again.

What does work again is the camaraderie among the ensemble. Even though Cooper, Helms and Galifianakis have little original material to work with this time around, they manage to create a believable and likable spark.

Ken Jeong’s egotistical and flamboyant Mr. Chow provides plenty of laughs and a few notable cameos will bring some smiles.

While The “Hangover Part II” has the feel of a blockbuster with car chases, shootouts and exotic locales, the audience will be left weeding through the sparse original comedic material while Todd Phillips and his Green Hat Films laugh all the way to the bank.

2.5 stars out of 5