In Hollywood, success breeds success. That usually means if a film is a box office hit, a sequel will inevitably follow. According to the suits, if the audience paid to see it once, and enjoyed it, why wouldn't they pay to see it again? For better or worse, that's no doubt the thinking which has resulted in The Hangover Part II.
The surprise comedy hit of 2009, The Hangover saw three guys awaken in a trashed Vegas hotel suite following a bachelor party night on the town. With their fourth friend and groom-to-be missing and Mike Tyson's tiger in their bathroom, the film saw the trio uncovering the forgotten events of the night before by retracing their booze-fuelled steps, in the hopes of finding their friend and getting him to the church on time.
The Hangover Part II, once again directed by Todd Phillips, and co-written with Craig Mazin and Scot Armstrong, takes this very same premise and simply transplants it to Thailand. Bangkok, to be precise, where our alcohol-soaked amnesiacs – Phil (Bradley Cooper), Stu (Ed Helms) and Alan (Zach Galifianakis) – awaken more than a little worse for wear.
Having acquired a buzz cut (Alan), a face tattoo (Stu), and a monkey somewhere during the night, they've also managed to lose Stu's future brother-in-law, 16-year-old Teddy (Mason Lee); Stu's impending nuptials the reason the boys are in Thailand to begin with.
But they've also managed to pick up Mr Chow (Ken Jeong) during their previous night's adventures. Chow was the somewhat villain from the first film and Ken Jeong's expanded role is, for me, the funniest and most welcome presence in this sequel (although Galifianakis reminds us why we fell in love-hate with his Alan in #1).
The Hangover Part II has its share of comic moments but never reaches the hilarious heights of its predecessor, mostly because it doesn't have the element of surprise which was key to the original's success. I'll admit I had little desire to see The Hangover back in 2009; the only bit in the trailer that made me chuckle was a baby being hit with a car door. But Todd Phillips' comedy won me over with its inventive take on the 'boys gone wild in Vegas' genre.
That inventiveness is missing this time out and that may have something to do with the quick turnaround between films; Phillips and co. no doubt encouraged (by said studio suits) to strike while the iron was hot. But then, studios don't order sequels under the proviso they differentiate from the original: "Give us the same but bigger". So I guess we should be thankful it's not in 3D, although The Hangover II beer goggles sounds like a marketing opportunity missed.
The same could be said of the film itself. Not that The Hangover Part II is terrible - it's not - or even unfunny. It is, just not enough. But hey, we'll always have Vegas.