I saw The Hangover Part II a few nights ago and was pleasantly surprised. Other than perhaps taking too long to set up a storyline and attempt some tepid character development, the movie delivers on exactly what it promised: raunch and cheap laughs. I chuckled throughout and even managed a few louder bursts.
However, after talking with a few of my friends and family, it seems that not many of them shared my enjoyment of the movie. And they aren't the only ones, apparently. The movie got a dismal 35% score by critics on Rotten Tomatoes, although it garnered 94% audience appreciation.
Complaints seem to fall into two categories, each of which I'll address below.
The resounding whine I've heard from nearly everyone I know who's seen it, along with many of the online critics, is that Hangover II suffers too much from being like the first movie. To which the only valid reply is: No shit! Really?
It's true that there is no plot beyond the one you know about going into it — that a groom and three of his friends are about to have a wild night they don't remember in a strange city. But that's the whole point. Even 80% of the title is the same as the title of the first movie.
Now, don't get me wrong. I don't generally think that sequels should be the same as their predecessors. For example, it would be a hell of a shame if The Empire Strikes Back or Godfather II had the same story lines as their predecessors. But there's a vast difference between movies that actually have a plot and those that don't.
I think most people are forgetting that The Hangover was little more than a longish sitcom. Which isn't bad — I like sitcoms. But if you expected the sequel to be anything different for the second time around, then your disappointment in the movie is misplaced.
It's hard to believe that anyone who liked the first movie could think the second one went too far. Sure, the first one didn't have penis-licking monkeys or sexually confusing prostitutes, but it's not like it's that big of a leap from the first film. People had to know that Todd Phillips and team was going to push the envelope at least a little.
Not that I enjoyed all of it myself. This movie has more dick in it than Forgetting Sarah Marshall, and I didn't particularly appreciate that aspect of it. But if the movie was so predictable, then anyone who thought about it for two seconds should've seen it coming.
In the end, I think The Hangover Part II is everything you'd expect it to be. If you liked the first Hangover, then generally speaking, you should like this one as well. Complaining that it's predictable is like complaining your leftovers taste the same as they did at dinner last night: Nobody should expect a second helping to taste different.