Hangover II

Rated R (for pervasive language, strong sexual content including graphic nudity, drug use and brief violent images).

Anyone who has seen Hangover surely knows what to expect from Hangover II. Both films, after all, are about regular, geeky guys doing naughty stuff under the influence of the proverbial “Mickey.”

The usual gang is back, but this time they end up in Bangkok. I wonder why they used that location. Hmmmm. Oh, wait. I think I get the joke.

The dentist, Stu (played by Ed Helms) is getting married to a gorgeous Thai named Lauren (Jamie Chung). Her parents are wealthy. The wedding is taking place, at a beautiful resort in Thailand. So, Ed invites his pals Phil (Bradley Cooper) and Doug (Justin Bartha) to the wedding. He most certainly does not want the obnoxious, man-child Alan (Zach Galifianakis) to come along but he is eventually forced to include him. A big mistake.

Alan got upset when he met Stu’s future brother-in-law, Teddy (Mason Lee), a brilliant pre-med student. He didn’t want anybody to mess with the usual trio and so he tried to slip him a drug to make him crash. Of course, everybody takes the drug and the next thing the four know, they wake up the next morning in a seedy fleabag in downtown Bangkok’s red light district. Teddy is missing but his severed finger is there.

Also present, is a monkey. Slapstick Comedy 101: add a monkey. And because it is Hangover II, bring back the “wild and crazy” Chow (Ken Jeong) and make sure we get to see his wee wee…again. (I could have done without the experience, thank you.) But to be sure, Ken Jeong steals every scene in which he appears; all others fade into the background, even Galifianakis.

Director Todd Phillips also threw in Paul Giamatti and Nick Cassavetes to “class up” the film. It wasn’t enough. For example, under the influence, Stu (and his cronies) go to a strip joint and get into circumstances that clearly earned the film an “R” rating.  This gag may have gone too far.

Hangover was a surprise. It certainly was an adult joke but it was fresh and funny. It made over $400,000,000. Hangover II seems a bit strained. Obviously, executives wanted lightning to strike again. They may make millions, but Hangover II doesn’t have the same charm as the original. There are laughs but frankly, they are more chuckles than guffaws. The best scene occurs in Alan’s bedroom before the cast head to Bangkok. (Alan bosses his parents around, describes himself as a stay-at-home son, and clearly is big fan of the Jonas Brothers---creepy but entertaining.)

Director Phillips should have tried a different twist on the story instead of making a carbon copy of the original.  To me, it is just a shrug of the shoulders even though I chortled here and there.

You may be aware that Stu gets a facial tattoo while under the influence…the same tattoo that Mike Tyson has on his face. So, Mike Tyson shows up and actually sings. Perhaps that contributed to the “R” rating. It certainly should have. Perhaps there should have been a medical disclaimer: Beware: “Mike Tyson’s singing may cause brain damage.”

At the very end of the film, when the credits begin to roll, we are shown snapshots of the famous night. This helps explain a few things (like Teddy’s severed finger) but it also includes a few “gross-out” shots that graphically pushes one of the gags over the cliff down into the dark pit of tastelessness. While Hangover was naughty but nice, Hangover II is naughty and tacky. Afterwards, I went to go see Kung Fu Panda II just to cleanse my soul.

I think the most interesting part of the film is that Mason Lee (who played Teddy) is film director Ang Lee’s son and Ken Jeong (Chow) is an honest-to-goodness physician. Other than that: who cares?

Hangover II gets two and a half bow ties out of five.

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