TO PARAPHRASE OSCAR WILDE, "To experience one raging drug-induced blackout may be regarded as a misfortune; to experience two looks like carelessness." And "carelessness" is the operative word in The Hangover Part II—the fairly unnecessary sequel to the sporadically amusing The Hangover. In the first outing, three oddball pals (Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms, and Zach Galifianakis) black out during a bachelor party, forget everything that happened, and then frantically comb Las Vegas for the missing groom. While the story meandered at times, the upsides were memorable: the leads were likeable, the script sneakily mirrored a pulp mystery, and the film was peppered with bizarro dollops of tigers, hookers, and Mike Tyson. In the second Hangover, we get more of the same—but is that what we really want?
This version kicks off months after the events of the first Hangover, with Stu (Helms) announcing he's getting married in Thailand, and asking his pals to come along for the ride—BUT! Still suffering from post-traumatic stress following their last gathering, Stu puts the kibosh on any bachelor parties. Cut to Thailand, cut to an innocent bonfire and beer on the beach with the bride's 16-year-old brother, and then (uh oh) cut to a filthy, sweaty hotel room in Bangkok, teeming with gargantuan roaches, a dismembered finger, and an angry drug-dealing monkey. Galifianakis is inexplicably bald, Helms has a mysterious and unfortunate facial tattoo, and the 16-year-old brother is nowhere to be found. And so, once again, the game is afoot as the "wolf pack" frantically searches the hot tranny mess that is Thailand for the missing boy, while desperately trying to piece together their memories of the lost night and make it to the wedding on time.
The Hangover Part II stays in unwavering lockstep with its predecessor—though it's certainly not all bad. Between the long stretches of clumsy exposition, there are at least five or six belly laughs, some gorgeous visuals of Thailand at its best and worst, and the comedy team of Cooper, Helms, and Galifianakis are just as likeable as before. But seriously, would it have killed them to deviate slightly from the cookie-cutter formula? The entirety of the film's creative juices seems to have been spent on the "bizarro dollops" mentioned earlier—and while they are indeed bizarre (oh, hello monkey nibbling on a penis), I don't think it's wrong to ask for a little bit more.