The Hangover Part II ✮✮

Thigh-land

by Glenn Lovell

What do you want in a comedy called “The Hangover Part II”? Laff-out-loud raunch and only an occasionally detour from the original premise, correct? The Bangkok-set follo to the 2009 sleeper hit about three guys who misplace the bridegroom during a Las Vegas bachelor party doesn’t disappoint. It’s naughty with a vengeance and has a handful of (gulp) did-I-see-what-I-thought-I-saw shock-yocks.

Subbing for Mike Tyson’s missing tiger? A chittering monkey who needs a better agent. The little guy’s expressive enough to rate top billing.

Wolf Pack: Familiar straits

In short, for returning director Todd Phillips, it’s time to don flight suit and proclaim, “Mission accomplished!”

Of course it helps when you’re able to re-up the original cast. Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms and Zach Galifianakis are all back as the disaster-prone friends, a.k.a. “the Wolfpack.” They’re as well-paired as Larry, Curly and Moe. Cooper plays Phil, the straight-man brains of the outfit with more than a streak of sadism; Helms is Stu, the uptight dentist who always goes against his better judgment; and Galifianakis returns as Alan, the sullen clown with a genius for turning tricky situations into disastrous ones. I find Galifianakis the funniest of the three. He reminds me a lot of the young John Belushi of SNL and “Animal House,” i.e. crazy like a fox.

Also back is Justin Bartha as Doug. After nearly missing his wedding in the first “Hangover,” he’s now safely married and pretty much sidelined. (Is there a message here?)

This time around it’s Stu who’s altar-bound. The ceremony is set to take place at a resort off the coast of Thailand because that’s where Stu’s fiancee, Lauren (Jamie Chung), is from. After a bachelor party of ihop pancakes and orange juice ‒ Stu’s no fool ‒ the quartet collect Lauren’s 16-year-old brother Teddy (Mason Lee) and fly to Thailand. Things go according to plan, until Phil and Al suggest a beach bonfire and Al introduces some suspicious-looking marshmallows.

Per the formula, the three regain consciousness in a strange room ‒ Stu sporting a Tyson-like tattoo on his face, Al minus his locks. In the same room: international druggie-kidnapper Mr. Chow (Ken Jeong), Al’s “plus-one” invite, and the aforementioned simian. But where is the bride-to-be’s kid brother, Teddy? All that remains of the guy is his college ring, on a severed ring finger. Never a good sign.

After determining that they’re not in the tourist section of Bangkok — their room  is decorated in early “Apocalypse Now” — the trio follow clues to piece together the previous night’s itinerary of bars, brawls and brothels. Also factoring in what Chow terms one “sick night” were a monastery (a monk is now wearing Teddy’s sweatshirt), Russian arms dealers, and a tattoo parlor run by an American expat (Nick Cassavetes in a cameo once announced for Mel Gibson).

Yes, it’s all very predictable, even if you haven’t seen “Hangover I.” No matter. Phillips keeps things fast, crass and  crowd-pleasing, and Galifianakis once again hogs the laughs, especially when he goes into a meditative trance and relives the entire ordeal as a chubby12-year-old and, later, when he bonds with the monkey in a moment out of “Casa-blank-ya.”

The monkey, who turns out to be a drug dealer’s “middle man,” has the best wardrobe (a tiny motorcycle jacket and helmet) and generates the best lines, delivered by Al with the solemnity of Confucian proverbs. “When a monkey nibbles on a penis it’s funny in any language.” Truer words …

I find it amusing that a large segment of the critical establishment has dumped on this comedy. It delivers on its promise to not leave one sacred cow standing, one nationality or sexual designation unsullied. How many films can make that claim?

I don’t need to tell you to stick around for the slide show over the end credits. The cell-phone candids tell us more than we want to know about the lost night. One shot, however, goes beyond crude. It’s of Phil and Mr. Chow reenacting an iconic moment from the Vietnam War ‒ the shot-to-the-head of a Vietcong prisoner. That — and the child-prostitute jokes — hits a new low in insensitivity, even for Phillips and his mindless miscreants.

THE HANGOVER PART II ✮✮ With Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms, Zach Galifianakis, Ken Jeong, Paul Giamatti. Directed by Todd Phillips; scripted by Craig Mazin, Scot Armstrong, Phillips. 102 mins. Rated R (for nonstop raunch, some violence, full-frontal nudity, male and female)

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