“THE HANGOVER PART II” My rating: B
102 minutes | Rating: R
In comedy funny trumps everything else.
“The Hangover Part II” isn’t smarter than, say, “Bridesmaids.” And it has little of the emotional heft of a truly great comedy like “Local Hero” or “Groundhog Day.”
But it’s still about the funniest thing to hit the screen in a long while — providing you’ve got a high threshold for raunchy outrageousness.
You can’t accuse its makers of messing around too much with a successful format. Despite a change of locale — sinful Bangkok takes the role previously played by sinful Las Vegas — this sequel is a recycling of characters and incidents from the first film. That might be a liability if it wasn’t so damn hilarious.
The plot finds Stu (Ed Helms), the straight-laced dentist, getting married to the beautiful daughter of a wealthy Thai businessman.The big event will take place at a gorgeous seaside resort on the Thai coast and all of Stu’s buddies are there for the shindig.
An evening of shared manliness on the beach somehow turns into an all-night debauch, with Stu, the sardonic Phil (Bradley Cooper) and the infantile Alan (Zach Galifianakis) awakening in a seedy Bangkok hotel room.
With them is Chow (Ken Jeong), the anarchistic, motormouthed gangster from the first film, a monkey wearing a denim Rolling Stones vest, empty liquor bottles, a gigantic roach and, most disturbingly, a human finger.
Alan has lost his hair overnight. Stu now has an impressive tattoo…on his face.
“I think it’s happened again,” Phil moans.
A class ring identifies the digit as belonging to Teddy (Mason Lee), the bride’s 16-year-old brother who was part of the boys’ night out and now has vanished into Bangkok’s sexually-charged underworld. With no memory of the last 12 hours, Stu and the boys must somehow retrace their steps, find Teddy and get back to the resort in time for the ceremony.
Director Todd Phillips and his fellow writers delight in upping the ante with every new revelation, the most eyebrow-raising involving a bar/brothel staffed by beautiful hermaphrodites.
It may not be deep, but credit “Hangover II” with some deliciously subversive ideas about the American male and masculinity. It’s fitting that the film’s theme song is Johnny Cash’s rendition of “The Beast in Me.”
Films like “The Hangover Part II” aren’t remembered for the acting, but you’ve got to credit this cast for beginning with barely-suppressed hysteria and building to a crescendo of panic.
The film’s single best performance, though, is given by the mugging, cigarette-smoking monkey, who exhibits a range of emotion the equal to any human. Isn’t it time for an Animal Oscars?
| Robert W. Butler