The Hangover Part II opens with a familiar scene. Tracy (Sasha Barrese) receives a phonecall from a frazzled Phil (Bradley Cooper.) He informs her there probably won’t be a wedding, all is doomed…again. The audience laughs because it was just like that in the first film, but now it’s probably worse.
The film proceeds to test how amusing that recognition is for this is the exact same film. It’s more of a remake than an actual sequel. The reason was such a hit was because it took three buffoonish characters and threw them into a raunchy mystery. With amnesia they had to sort out their maddening night with clues and leads so they can hopefully find their friend.
When the exact same thing happens again, even the characters find this to be routine. They’ve already played this game. Everyone remarks how similar this is, just in a different locale. It isn’t just the same premise, every plot point lines up to the first one including a kidnapping mishap, a visit to the hospital, authority figures hurting them, Stu (Ed Helms) being disfigured, songs, elevator shots, Mr. Chow (Ken Jeong), Doug (Justin Bartha) not being part of the story, and even a last second cameo just to further remind you this is not an original film.
Despite them being intentionally unlikable characters, the trio are very watchable. So having a similar story could have been fine, if they just let the three of them guide the story. They don’t even have that. They all seem bored, mostly because they don’t have time to say very many jokes. All of their dialog is focused on the stale plot and continuously talking about the first film. The worst offense is Alan (Zach Galifinakis) who was the breakthrough star from the first film. Perhaps it’s because the original screenwriters weren’t part of this go-around, but it seems like they forgotten why this character is funny. He no longer seems real. This time he is too broad, too stupid, and often forgotten amongst the movie.
Comedies can have successful sequels if done right. Look at Community. (Please. I don’t want it to be canceled.) In their first season they had a brilliant episode called “Modern Warfare” which was a parody of action movie while they had a campus wide paintball tournament. It was a critical and fan favorite so during the 2nd season finale, they returned to paintball. Instead of being like Die Hard, they took a western motif, which evolved into a full-on war film. There were a few references to the first episode, but they were always quick and subtle. Instead they took the spirit of the first one and with creativity they took that into a new brilliant story with plenty of new jokes. If they just had done another action movie parody, then the episode would have flopped.
So please, The Inevitable Hangover Part III, I know your franchise is about characters making the same mistakes but…please stop making the same mistakes.