The Shallow Man Movie Review: The Hangover Part II

Oftentimes with successful comedies, once is more than enough to tell a fresh, fun story with amusing characters and their crazy antics. No one clamored for sequels to hits like “The 40-Year-Old Virgin” or “Wedding Crashers” because a follow-up couldn’t possibly be as well received as the original. And then those that do get sequels like “Legally Blonde 2” or “Evan Almighty” are so bad they threaten to make you despise the original for spawning such a humorless money-grab.

You’d be forgiven then for cautiously not expecting much once a sequel to “The Hangover,” the highest grossing R-rated comedy of all time, was announced. After all, how could the creators possibly find a way to recapture the magic of a comedy based around a bunch of drugged-out pals trying to remember their previous night of debauchery?

Turns out, director Todd Phillips and company kept the recipe to 2009’s critically acclaimed cocktail and mixed up another batch of “The Hangover” formula that will have you doubling over and laughing until you cry in the rare comedy sequel that does its predecessor proud and surpasses expectations in the funniest, raunchiest comedy since the original.

Stu (Ed Helms, “The Office”), the dentist who loves referring to himself as a doctor, has found true love with Lauren (Jamie Chung, “Sucker Punch”) and is days away from marrying her in Thailand.

To the great disappointment of his pals, Phil (Bradley Cooper, “Limitless”) and Doug (Justin Bartha), Stu goes to hilarious lengths to ensure there’s no wild bachelor party to ruin things this outing. But as a favor to Doug, he reluctantly invites the slightly Alan (Zack Galifianakis, “Due Date”) along for the wedding.

Alan’s up to his old socially-awkward tricks, providing some memorable moments right from the start such as a room decorated with WWF posters (in an unexpected “tribute” of sorts the most prominently featured is one with recently deceased wrestler “Macho Man” Randy Savage) and pronouncing the destination spot as “Thigh Land.”

Alan quickly finds himself at odds with Lauren’s little brother, Teddy (acclaimed director Ang Lee’s son Mason making his full-length film debut), who he feels is horning in on another “Wolf Pack” escapade. After the rehearsal dinner, the guys decide to have a few beers at a bonfire to celebrate Stu’s impending nuptials. And then everything gets crazy.

Stu, Phil and Alan awake in a dingy, roach-infested hotel room. Alan’s head is shaved, Stu has a tattoo, Teddy’s gone missing and there’s a monkey running around in their room chewing on a finger. And they’ve no idea how they got in this predicament.

Yes, it’s a similar setup to the original, but “The Hangover Part II” takes the familiar premise to new levels of insanity, including run-ins with monks, riot squads, strip clubs and an inspired recollection of the events from Alan’s child-like perspective. Along the way, the guys reunite with some familiar faces, such as the scene-stealing Mr. Chow (Ken Jeong), and meet some new memorable ones like Kimmy (Yasmin Lee) and Samir (Bryan Callen, who played Eddie in “The Hangover”). The change of venue helps keep things fresh and unpredictable as a number of audience members are familiar with Las Vegas, but very few can relate to a wild night out in Bangkok.

One of the best aspects of the film is how mortified Stu and Phil get as they discover what led to their predicament. Their shock and disgust at their actions is consistently funny. They’re normal guys put in some ridiculous circumstances that you can both laugh at and feel sorry for them, which wouldn’t work if they were just obnoxious jerks. Cooper plays a great straight man, but my favorite performer is always a toss-up between Helms and Galifianakis. Harris for his ability to have Stu fly off the handle at a moment’s notice and Galifianakis in how he’s able to keep Alan likeably simple-minded, but never so stupid that he’s just the writer’s plot device for getting the characters from outlandish scenario A to absurd situation B.

Unlike the original, this isn’t going to surprise anyone because there’s a certain level of expectation as to what “The Hangover Part II” is going to serve up, but it still delivers massive laughs, moments that will have you cracking up randomly thinking about it days after and have you planning out the next time you see it.

This may be the one time in recorded history where a second hangover is a good thing. Bartender, another round with the Wolf Pack.

Grade ★ ★ ★  ★ ★ out of 5 stars
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