Rated: R Reviewed by: Jim Release date: May 26, 2011 Released by: Warner Brothers
Not as genuinely hilarious as its hugely profitable predecessor, this much-anticipated comedy sequel still delivers the laughs for a built-in audience on track for the antics of its memorable characters and setup.
The Hangover Part II isn't and wasn't without its own controversy, from some of the casting, now to Mike Tyson's tattoo artist as it gets down and dirty in Thailand with many involved doing their best to beat the heat and food poisoning. Returning director and co-scribe Todd Phillips again, for the most part, has a knack to deliver the delirious, debaucheries goods, even if the result lacks the outrageous fortune that the novelty of the original premise ensured. Maybe the formula could have been tweaked a little better in its resolution, notably involving one of the homeland characters who refers to someone as being like "wet rice."
The camaraderie of the returning "Wolfpack" - cautious, new groom, dentist Stu (Ed Helms of Cedar Rapids),self-proclaimed leader Phil (Bradley Cooper of Limitless), hirsute man-child ("stay at home son") Alan (the ubiquitous Zach Galifianakis), and Doug (Justin Bartha - the original groomsman AWOL from the first Vegas-based installment, relegated to a luxury resort this time) is still intact.
Another bacchanalian episode leaves one sweaty, sordid member of the group exclaiming "It happened again" on top of a Bangkok hotel, as stag pals embark again on a post-blackout misadventure. A little pre-wedding little drink (can't forget some toasted marshmallows) puts them on a search or backtracking to what lead them to the hotel. Of course, there are more than headaches, as gratuitous, unsavory humiliations are to be endured in a chaotic setting.
A bewildered desperation especially felt through Stu in the native land of his intended spouse, the lovely Lauren (Jamie Chung). Stu ends up with a tattoo on his head and Alan's head is shaved, and there's also the case of the absent younger pre-med cello prodigy brother of Lauren, Teddy (Mason Lee). Teddy doesn't have his Stanford ring and ring-finger anymore. So, the thrust of the proceedings is finding Teddy as Lauren and her family begin to have conniptions.
Amid all the pervasive goings-on with drugs, sex and violence that may rile some animal rights activists, the startling hi-jinks involves the underworld, lotharios and a motorcycle helmet. Paul Giamatti serves as a plot device as intense "investment banker" Kingsley in need of some codes as Teddy may be a part of blackmail or worse. One of the big scene-stealers is a chain-smoking capuchin (played by Crystal, familiar to the silver screen) aided by some CGI partaking in some of the sillier, cruder interludes.
The Hangover really gave Ken Jeong a chance to expose himself as the snappy, cynical Asian gangster in Mr. Chow, now back on board, almost emerging as a cult figure in a more sizable role. He almost upstages Galifianakis's nerdy, nastier Alan whose sweet, comedic presence in the first film was a breakthrough turn. Cooper unleashes a more pepper-mouthed, arrogant Phil in accord with the madness and gross-out situations. One can't forget retired former heavyweight champion Mike Tyson on board again, briefly, for some vocal, self-deprecating amusement.
This nutty travelogue, which will having many drooling for "more of the same," might be more hit-and-miss, milder and less wildly unpredictable than they would care to admit. Still, for pushing the boundaries amid all kinds of disasters that can happen when in Thailand's renowned metropolis, the trip seems to be worth it (especially in another explicit digital photo opening of the final credit scroll).
It helps in a fairly re-lucent production with some vibrant striking lensing from Lawrence Sher that offers up more of an exotic backdrop to landscape and edifices in contrast to the grungy squalor of a hotel. One that has a variety of songs from pop (special affinity to Billy Joel, as Alan has a poster of one of his albums on his wall) to hip-hop to accompany all the screwed-up details before and after getting trashed
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