The Hangover Part II

There’s a big joke in this movie somewhere, but I can’t tell you what or where it is. Perhaps it’s the serious raunchiness that pervades. Maybe the producers of II made a ton of money from I, so they figured, What the heck, they laughed once, they’ll laugh again.
    If you’ve seen the first Hangover, you’ll have context for the present action. It’s now two years after the Las Vegas venture in Hangover I, and another of the four buddies is engaged. The other three are determined to throw him a bachelor party.
    Buddy Stu (Ed Helms) is about to get married to a Thai beauty, and the twain are deeply in love. The wedding ceremony will be held in Thailand in the presence of the bride’s very conservative parents.
    But that’s not the story. This is a buddy picture above all. So on the night before the wedding, Stu’s buddies Doug (Justin Bartha, in a bit part), Phil (Bradley Cooper) and Alan (Zach Galifianakis) take the bride’s 16-year-old brother Teddy (Mason Lee) with them as they head into Bangkok for a night of partying.
    When morning dawns, they wake in a seedy hotel room with no memories of the previous night — plus a problem: They have lost Teddy. He’s adrift somewhere in Bangkok, and Stu’s future wife won’t take kindly to the news that her little brother is missing.
    The search for Teddy animates the movie. Modern audiences demand formulaic car chases, car crashes and Russian gangsters. We get all these as the search proceeds. We also get a cigarette-smoking monkey, Mike Tyson, Chinese slacker Mr. Chow (Ken Jeong, another carryover from Hangover I) — and some really good-looking transvestites. Said transvestites let it all hang out, so to speak (you are warned).
    The movie relies too much on the assumption that the characters are likeable. They could be, but it appears that the director made a deliberate effort to distance them from the audience. A case in point is Alan. Galifianakis plays the role as an oddball who doesn’t share the buddy chemistry of Helms and Cooper. He’s always a little bit on the outside, which makes you wonder what deep philosophical truths he’s trying to convey in this slapstick farce. It doesn’t fit.
    On balance, Hangover Part II is very funny part of the time, goofy and improbable all of the time and silly most of the time. Hangover III is already in the works (and maybe IV, V and VI as well). As for me, I’ve reached the end of the road.

Fair Comedy • R • 102 mins.