The weight of expectation often lays heavy on sequels. Especially when they get caught up in the media-hype machine and become billed as the greatest movie of all time.
The follow-up to the comedic revelation The Hangover was never going to be any different.
The main cast-members, Messrs Cooper, Galfiniakis, Helms and Bartha, agreed to bring The Wolfpack back, this time for Stu’s wedding. Bangkok seemed the perfect choice to replace Las Vegas as the setting, which was pivotal in the success of the first film. And so the trailers went to work to create a huge deal of excitement for the impending release of director Todd Phillip’s second bash at the morning-after-the-night-before.
It looked just like the first film, only better.
But, sadly, in reality it is only just like the first film.
Yes, all of the elements that made The Hangover great are in The Hangover Part II. The problem is that ALL of the elements that made The Hangover great are in The Hangover Part II – from Allan making a defenceless, innocent person (and now an animal too) perform a mock-sexual act, to Stu’s impromptu song of pessimism.
In spite of the terrible lack if originality in it, to say that the second Hangover is as bad as a hangover would not only be really cheesy, it would also be a lie. It is extremely funny in parts. It retains the chaotic charm of the original too. As a standalone movie, it is still better than many comedies.
But sequels can never, and should never, be thought of for too long without comparison to the other film(s) in the series.
A sequel is supposed to be a vast improvement on its predecessor. Failing that, it should at least take the series in a different direction and cover new ground. Ideally it will do both – the former as a result of the latter.
Think of the best sequels you have seen and consider if the creator of it simply took the blueprint from the first film and created what is almost a carbon copy. Imagine if The Dark Knight was Batman Begins with a different villain. Imagine if The Godfather II didn’t have the flashbacks to Vito Corleone’s past. And just imagine if Arnie was still out to kill John Connor in Terminator 2.
Then think of how similar Transformers 2 was to Transformers and how disappointing it was as a result.
The Hangover II does not embrace change in the way the most successful sequels do. It is funny, but it is lazy and could have been so much more.