The Hangover, Part II has been criticized for being a carbon copy of the original The Hangover, There’s a reason for that. It’s because it is.
Okay, maybe carbon copy is a bit harsh. It’s not exactly like the first one. But it’s close enough that you get the indication that the new writing team of Craig Mazin, Scot Armstrong, and Todd Phillips simply took a Sharpie to the first film’s script, making changes here and there.
There is a wedding amongst a group of friends, although now it’s Stu (Ed Helms) instead of Doug (Justin Bartha). Stu, Doug and fellow groomsman Phil (Bradley Cooper) are essentially forced into inviting the awkward Alan (Zach Galifinakis) along on the festivities.
There is a wild night in an exotic location, but Bangkok instead of Las Vegas, and the next morning they wake in a stupor to find one of the wedding party missing, although this time it is neither Stu nor Doug but Teddy (Mason Lee), the favored son of Stu’s father-in-law to be.
Then the film becomes a search for Teddy and a reconstructing of the night before, just like the first movie. There is a case of mistaken identity involving the missing person, much like in the first film. Stu has a dalliance with a stripper, like he did in the first movie. There is high pressure hostage exchange, just like the first film. There is an inappropriate mock sexual act performed in public, just like in the first film.
All of these plot points have a twist–a big, noisy,lurid or expensive twist–that makes them slightly different that the original. But the plot structure and the series and order of events are almost exactly silver. The big revelation at the end happens the same way as the first film, with the same characters doing the same actions and the same result coming from it.
Now, some might say not messing with a successful formula is a good thing. So what if the plots are almost identical? That’s a good thing because the first one was funny, right?
While there are some funny moments (Mike Tyson’s cameo is especially hilarious), the sameness make the viewer less willing to suspend disbelief. And the viewer is asked to suspend disbelief a lot in this movie. Slights big and small are forgiven far to easily. A person who can provide all the answers to the night before dies suddenly before he can tell what happened yet returns to life when he’s needed for the plot. The boys face no legal ramifications for any of their accidents, even though there’s really no way why really shouldn’t.
The result is a why bother kind of film. Why bother paying $10 or more to go to a theater and see this film when you can rent the far superior original for less?