Bradley Cooper as Phil consults with Zach Galifianakis as Alan… (Melinda Sue Gordon, Melinda…)
When you hear the slogan "What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas," your imagination starts working overtime, and the raunchy Vegas bachelor party in "The Hangover" shrewdly tapped into those fantasies. It resulted in millions of movie-goers turning up at the box office a couple of years ago.
That hit made "The Hangover Part II" as inevitable as, well, the aftermath from a night of hedonistic excess.
Although there is nothing particularly novel about the new sequel, it successfully takes the comic formula that paid off in Vegas and geographically transfers it to another celebrated "sin city," Bangkok.
If you enjoy watching grown men behave like overgrown frat boys, this movie provides more than enough gross laughs to make it worthwhile. Conversely, if you're a stickler for cinematic good taste, don't even pause under this movie's title on the theater marquee.
What plot there is in "The Hangover Part II" is mostly just an excuse for these immature guys to misbehave some more. Director Todd Phillips, who co-wrote the script with Scot Armstrong and Craig Mazin, does not tamper with what pleased audiences in the first movie.
You would think that the nerdy dentist, Stu (Ed Helms), would have learned a lesson after all the bad things that happened to him in Vegas while on that bachelor weekend gone wild. Well, Stu is now planning to go to Thailand to marry a woman from a very wealthy, if rather uptight, Thai family.
What does he do? Why, he asks his trouble-making buddies to join him there. With the likes of Phil (Bradley Cooper), Doug (Justin Bartha) and Alan (Zach Galifianakis) hanging out with him, you know that their modest plans for a beer or two will lead to a Thai night so bizarre that they won't remember any of it the next morning.
The crisis situation in the sequel involves Stu's future brother-in-law, a young honors student whose proper life takes an improper turn when he accompanies these American guys for a night out. Stu and his pals wake up in a trashy Bangkok hotel room, where they realize that the young man has mysteriously disappeared.
Actually, not all of him has disappeared. His severed finger is there in the room. They need to hold onto the finger as material evidence of a sort, but a hyperactive, cigarette-smoking monkey threatens to make off with the finger. It's that kind of a movie.
As the movie gleefully makes clear, Vegas has nothing on Bangkok in the sleaze department. The dive bars, seedy strip clubs and other nightlife exotica are on vivid display here, ensuring that the movie bears a well-deserved "R" rating.
This is a shaggy dog or, to be more precise, shaggy monkey story in which the American guys confront their collective amnesia about their over-the-top night on the town and then embark on a meandering detective quest to find out what happened to that missing brother-in-law.
There are too many lulls between the comic highlights of their quest, but audiences are most likely to remember the funny scenes and let the rest go by.
Besides, that quest bounces along in such a quasi-surreal manner that it's easy to keep watching for the simple reason that you want to see what will threaten them next.
Also keeping a hold on your attention is Zach Galifianakis' performance as the childlike Alan. Still living with his parents, this spoiled slacker is a strange combination of cluelessness and insight. He makes sure that everybody, the audience included, is kept off balance a bit.
In his own way, Alan is much more dangerous than retired heavyweight boxer Mike Tyson, who makes another cameo here. Tyson's facial tattoo also figures into a story in which nothing is too ridiculous to be included. As a guys'-night-out summer movie, this one sure knows its audience. Grade: B
"The Hangover Part II" (R) is now playing at area theaters.