Review: 'Happy Death Day 2U' still loopy, not as fun

Sequel to the 2017 hit is a slight downgrade from the original

Adam Graham
Detroit News Film Critic
Jessica Rothe and Phi Vu in "Happy Death Day 2 U."

If 2017's "Happy Death Day" was like a slasher film take on "Groundhog Day" directed by John Hughes, "Happy Death Day 2U" is its slightly downgraded sci-fi counterpart, adding multiverse theories into the movie's world of fractured time loops.   

In all the world-jumping and talk of quantum physics, a bit of the fun of the original film is lost. But "Happy Death Day 2U" still has sharp comic sensibilities and an unexpected amount of heart. (Scares? Not so much.) 

Tree Gelbman (the fantastic Jessica Rothe), having unmasked the baby-faced killer in the first film, finds herself back in the cycle of repeating the same day over and over again after fellow Bayfield University student Ryan Phan's (Phi Vu) science experiment goes kablooey. Now she's not just living the same day, she's hopped to an alternate reality with two major differences from the world she knows: her mother is alive, but her boyfriend Carter (Israel Broussard) is no longer her boyfriend.

What's a time-looping girl to do? Director Christopher Landon, assuming writing duties in the absence of "Happy Death Day" screenwriter Scott Lobdell, makes Tree choose between worlds while weighing the implications of each. And in expanding the film's genre parameters, he proves its premise is adaptable to numerous modes of storytelling.    

Rothe is the film's sardonic center; without her dry wit and resilience, the movie doesn't function. "Happy Death Day 2U" is at its best in a montage where Tree finds new ways to kill herself off: she keeps dying, but she's the life that makes this series come alive.

'Happy Death Day 2U'


Rated PG-13: for violence, language, sexual material and thematic elements

Running time: 100 minutes