Reviewed by GREG KING

Director: Todd Phillips

Stars: Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms, Zach Galifianakis, Mason lee, Paul Gianatti, Justin Bartha, Ken Jeong.

This highly sequel to the hugely successful raunchy buddy comedy The Hangover offers more of the same – not that there’s anything wrong with that! Writer and director Todd Phillips knows better then anyone not to tamper with a winning formula, as he and co-writers Craig Mazin and Scot Armstrong put Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms and Zach Galifianakis through their paces again.

This time around the so-called “Wolf Pack” heads off to Thailand to help celebrate the marriage of nerdy dentist Stu (Helms). Somewhat reluctantly he invites the childlike but troublesome Alan (Galifianakis) along, despite that fact that he was responsible for their predicament in the first film. Stu is adamant that he doesn’t want a bachelor party, especially given how things turned out last time. Instead, the guys spend the evening before the wedding on the beach sipping beer and toasting marshmallows on a fire.

The next morning they wake up in a seedy hotel room somewhere in Bangkok, with no idea how they got there. Even worse, Teddy (Mason Lee), Stu’s 16-year old future brother-in-law, is missing. The only sign of his presence is his finger stuck in an ice bucket. Stu also has a wicked tattoo on his face, Alan’s head has been shaved, and there is a chain smoking monkey in the room. At Phil’s suggestion they begin to trace their steps following some rudimentary clues. It is a dark and dangerous trail that leads them to a wrecked market place, a sleazy nightclub, a tattoo parlour, a monastery on the outskirts of town, a run in with some vicious Russian gangsters. Eventually they are led to Kingsley (Paul Giamatti, wasted in a thankless role), a sinister gangster who may hold the key to Teddy’s whereabouts.

As with the first film, it begins with Phil ringing the wedding party to inform them that things have gone awry, and then we get the extended flashback to show how things have been derailed by a night of debauchery. Phillips maintains the usual frenetic pace throughout, and the film is littered with plenty of bad taste humour. This time around though the hit and miss ratio of the gags is somewhat less successful than the original, although the humour here is decidedly more crass.

Galifianakis again steals scenes effortlessly with his unpredictable man-child shtick, although this time his character seems more aggressive and obnoxious. Cooper essentially plays it straight as the unflappable Phil, while Helms brings a suitably frantic and increasingly manic touch to Stu. Justin Bartha’s role as the levelheaded and quiet Doug has been down sized, while Ken Jeong’s role as the flamboyant motor mouthed crook Mr Chow has been expanded.

The exotic locales add something extra to the film. Those who loved the first film will find plenty to enjoy here, even if the air of familiarity about the whole thing begins to become a bit tiresome after a while. A lot of the hype surrounding this sequel focused on the dropping of Mel Gibson’s high profile cameo as a tattooist even before shooting was completed.

Despite The Hangover II being a pale imitation of the original, there is still enough funny moments, energy and enthusiasm to suggest that a third Hangover could well be in the offing.




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