Reunion movies, which exist only to reunite main characters from good movies so they can try to recapture the lightning that has long left the bottle, are almost always destined to fail. This is so for the same reason that your high school reunion sucked, and the Facts of Life reunion show wasn’t quite what you were hoping it would be.
But rules are made to be broken, and The Hangover: Part II is made to break rules. I won’t bother explaining any of the jokes in the movie, not because I don’t want to spoil them, but because I doubt my ability to justify my laughter at ugly, mean and stupid jokes that are still clever enough to catch me off guard and crack me up. The movie embraces its wrongness and willingness to offend on as many levels as possible to such a degree that you just have to sit back and marvel at the high wire act. The act I’m referring to is one in which the metaphorical goal is not to stay on the high wire, but to face-plant off of it and splatter the audience with blood and an assortment of bodily fluids. That’s The Hangover: Part II.
The interesting thing about the movie is how lazy it is, refusing to deviate a single beat from the drunken mystery plot it established in the first movie. Think of a favorite drunk friend who likes to tell the same story over and over again. You hang out with the guy and he insists on telling the story again and again, and it stays funny, not only to him but you. That’s The Hangover: Part II.
The movie basically tries to bore you, but has so much raw talent on hand, in terms of actors and writing, that it’s funny in spite of itself. Too many scenes are spent forcing characters to acknowledge that they’re repeating their idiocy of the first movie, forced to piece together a night gone wrong after they wake up following a blackout. Too much time is spent ratcheting up false drama about whether or not the insane mysteries will be solved, and too many red herrings try to throw you off and make you think that characters who will definitely appear again have disappeared forever. Plus, there’s a monkey, which just reeks of desperation. That’s The Hangover: Part II.
There is but one goal of the movie, though, and it accomplishes it with just about as much success as the first Hangover: Be funny. The movie made me laugh so hard, so often that I could hardly collect my thoughts, nor wish that I could. Ed Helms is too perfect a square, Bradley Cooper is too self-assured in his self loathing and Zach Galifianakis is too wild a wildcard to let the humorous energy stop from bouncing off the walls. The guys could make 12 more of these movies, do just as well every time and get audiences to laugh and laugh at themselves for laughing. That’s a lot of laughing, and that’s The Hangover: Part II.
Starring Ed Helms, Bradley Cooper, Zach Galifianakis and Ken Jeong. Written by Craig Mazin, Scot Armstrong and Todd Phillips. Directed by Phillips. Rated R. 102 minutes.