With Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms, Zach Galifianakis, Ken Jeong and Paul Giamatti; Directed by Todd Phillips; Rated R (for pervasive language, strong sexual content including graphic nudity, drug use and brief violent images). 102 minutes.
If you liked “The Hangover,” and it was the biggest comedy hit of the summer of 2009, there’s no reason you won’t like THE HANGOVER, PART II. In fact, whether you know or not, you already like “The Hangover, Part II.” How can this be said? Easy. It’s virtually the same film. It falls into the classic trap for sequels made primarily to cash in on the unexpected success of a movie: tell the same story again, only louder.
This time, Stu (Ed Helms) is getting married. The “twist” is that his fiancée, Lauren (Jamie Chung), is from Thailand, and the wedding is being held there. At the start of the film, Phil (Bradley Cooper) and Doug (Justin Bartha) are disappointed that Stu wants to avoid all the problems the last time they had a bachelor party. While sitting in an IHOP, he tells them that IHOP is the bachelor party, as he doesn’t want to mess things up. Naturally, his friends object and, further, insist that he invite the giant man-child Alan (Zach Galifianakis), who has been pining away waiting to be asked. Against his better judgment, Stu finally relents, and before you know it, the “Wolf Pack” wakes up in a seedy Bangkok hotel room with no memory of the night before, and Stu’s teenage soon-to-be brother-in-law Teddy (Mason Lee) missing. However, all is not lost – Stu has had his face tattooed, Alan’s head has been shaved, Teddy’s finger is found in a bowl of water, and they are joined by Mr. Chow (Ken Jeong), the flamboyant Chinese gangster from the first film. All-around tasteless stupidity ensues.
Without even knowing the details, you know what will happen: Stu will be humiliated, the self-absorbed Alan will make bad situations worse, and Phil will try to be “cool” while dealing with silent monks, Russian drug dealers, and a mysterious character (Paul Giamatti) who claims to have kidnapped Teddy. Along the way there will be outrageously offensive stereotypes of Asians, transsexuals, and the city of Bangkok. Indeed, a protest from the Thai government or, at the very least, their ministry of tourism, is almost a given considering how Thailand (or “Thighland” as Alan keeps calling it) is depicted here. Those who thought the first film was hilarious will presumably laugh at most of the same jokes again; those who thought it an exercise in all-around tasteless stupidity will not find that it improves on a second helping.
About the only kind thing that can be said about “The Hangover, Part II” – sure to be the monster hit of the Memorial Day Weekend – is that it’s not as abysmally awful as “Bridesmaids.” And the producers are probably already regretting not putting Zach Galifianakis in a wedding dress and giving him explosive diarrhea.•••
Daniel M. Kimmel is a veteran movie critic and author of a host of film-related books, the most recent being Jar Jar Binks Must Die… And Other Observations About Science Fiction Movies. He teaches film at Suffolk University and lives in Somerville.