The Hangover Part II
Directed by Todd Phillips
Starring Ed Helms, Bradley Cooper, Zach Galifianakis, Ken Jeong
"The Hangover Part II," set in Bangkok, is painstakingly similar to its predecessor, repeating many of the same scenes and punchlines that made "The Hangover" the highest-grossing R-rated comedy in history. As the Thai like to say, though, "Same-same, but different." Different, yes, and not so funny.
Phil (Bradley Cooper), Stu (Ed Helms) and Alan (Zach Galifianakis) are back, and this time it's Stu getting married, on an island in Thailand. When the pals share some beers two nights before the wedding, it all seems like an innocuous nightcap. Cut to the next morning, when they wake up in an unfamiliar hotel room, their memories and livers shot. Someone's sawed-off finger is in a cup, Stu has a glaring face tattoo, a monkey lurks in the bathroom, and one of them - Teddy, Stu's soon-to-be brother-in-law - is missing. As they retrace their steps, they learn that over the course of the night, they started a riot, corrupted a monk and, of course, had a close encounter with a ladyboy.
You spend the first quarter of the movie hoping, waiting for the humor to ripen. Sadly, hope is futile. The same ingredients are there - Alan is still a weirdo, Stu tangos again with a hooker, and the three of them steal someone else's pet - but the recipe is bland. There's also a predictability to the high jinx, even the raunchy stuff, that almost makes it tame.
The premise is still funny: What kind of a man-child do you have to be to let this happen twice? Also, it's hard not to love Galifianakis, Helms and Ken Jeong (who returns as the spry Mr. Chow) when they nail the physical comedy. Still, every time a joke rings hollow, you want to shake your head and rue for the great sequel that could have been.