Blu-Ray Review: The Hangover 2

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The best sequels are those that enhance the story that came before, evolving the characters and situations in a direction that make the continued journey worthwhile. Films such as The Empire Strikes Back, Aliens, etc. understood this. Unfortunately, The Hangover 2 falls more in line with dreck like Speed 2. That is, a film so afraid to deviate from the original that it literally replicates the original film, beat for beat. I actually enjoyed the first film, and if this one came first, I would have enjoyed this one as well. However, it’s almost insulting just how lazy this script is, bringing nothing new to the table while simultaneously highlighting the weaknesses of the first.

This time around, the Wolfpack find themselves in Thailand for Stu’s (Ed Helms) wedding. Wouldn’t you know it, they wake up on the day of the wedding with his fiancee’s little brother missing, and no memory of the night before. Once again, they must piece together their crazy R-Rated evening, find the missing person, and get back in time for the wedding. Along the way, they discover and have to come to terms with their own demons within. Innovative enough the first time, tedious the second.

I went into this film knowing there would be some suspension of disbelief. There’s only so many times people can get themselves into this situation. However, I was willing to go along with it. I could accept the setup if they took the story in a different direction. However, it took me as long as the opening scene to realize that this film was going to follow the EXACT same structure as the first one.

However, if you haven’t seen the first movie, the movie would be pretty entertaining. This is definitely an ensemble movie, with everybody in the Wolfpack getting their moments to shine. Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms and Zach Galifianakis all appear very comfortable in their roles, and there is a definitive comic rhythm between them. It’s apparent that there was a lot of improvisation on set, which is welcome considering how stale the story itself is. These are very funny characters, and I enjoyed spending time with them again.

Conceptually, it was a great idea taking this group to Thailand. It’s a fascinating location, with a gritty edge providing a terrific contrast to the neon lights of Las Vegas. Like the original was shot in and around Las Vegas, this film was shot on location in Thailand. They could have very easily shot this at a studio, and I have to give them credit for not going that route. The film is beautifully shot, and the location seems to have really inspired the production on a visual level.

Having shot on location, you’d think there would be some in-depth behind-the-scenes footage. Unfortunately, the Blu-Ray is pretty minimal for the most part. While there are a few extras, most of them feel more like filler than genuinely interesting material. The most confusing (and longest) extra is called “Unauthorized Documentary.” Supposedly this is a documentary about a documentary about the film. Or something like that. I admit that I just didn’t get this. It might have been some inside-joke that I’m not a part of, but overall, it was just frustrating. They even got legitimate filmmakers such as Morgan Spurlock and JJ Abrams to take part in this thing. Whatever this was, it was over my head.

The other extras are brief features that don’t really provide a lot of insight into the film. The best one is a brief look at director Todd Phillips’ style of filmmaking. There’s nothing revolutionary here, but it’s the closest this set gets to providing any sort of look into the actual process into making a film such as this. Other features include a look at the monkey from the film, an unbelievably annoying “tour” of Bangkok with “Mr. Chow,” and a completely unfunny gag reel.

This was the first follow-up to one of the most successful R-Rated comedies of all time. There has to be a better release than this. Unfortunately, this is what we got. I definitely wouldn’t recommend the film for the extras. In fact, the only reason I would recommend this release is if you haven’t seen the first film at all. This is still an entertaining story with entertaining characters. It’s just the repetition that kills it.