The folks in charge of making The Hangover need a brief lesson in semantics. When you make a “sequel,” the audience expects certain similarities, such as the same or mostly the same characters, and a similar plot line. The underlying theme of the sequel can be similar. In some cases, a “sequel” will continue to tell a story that was left unfinished in the prior movies. When you come back a few years later and recycle the same old crap, but put a spin on it visually, make changes to the setting, or subtly alter the storyline from the original, you have a “remake,” or if the people are being charitable, a “re-imagining.”
The Hangover 2 is undoubtedly a remake, rather than a sequel. The sense of déjà vu is powerfully strong, so strong that audience members can get up and leave for twenty or thirty minutes, and still be able to follow the story if they saw the original. Except for moving the story from Los Vegas to Bangkok, and the addition of a new, honorary member to the “wolf pack,” there are few differences between the two films. Worse than that is that the dialogue continually makes references to these infamous friends “doing it again or “knowing the drill” once they’ve recovered from their clouded night of debauchery. Poking fun at your own shame is embarrassing for others, not funny.
That’s not to say that the movie isn’t occasionally, almost accidentally, funny. In particular, the scenes surrounding Ken Jeong are hysterical, even if they’re woefully short. The man plays the inept criminal perfectly; the role should lead the movie-going audience seeing more of him, although the joke is that you could hardly see more of him, since he’s appeared fully nude in both Hangover films. Zach Galiafianakis plays the only card in his deck, and it was funny two years ago, but seems less funny now. Bradley Cooper and Ed Helms try real hard, which is all that really matters.
Save yourselves the $7 entry fee and check out the original Hangover on DVD, or streaming if your service has it available.