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The Hangover Part II (2011 Movie Review) - The Good Men Project

—In “The Hangover Part II” Stu (Ed Helms) with freshly emblazoned Mike Tyson facial tattoo, has an epiphany, “Oh my G**! We kidnapped a monk!” “The Hangover Part II” is awesome. The movie is hysterical. Director and Writer Todd Phillips perhaps made the movie he intended to make with “The Hangover”. Now instead of Las Vegas, the Wolf Pack find themselves in Bangkok, Thailand, where there are no comedic restraints. Scary thought. Phillips with writers Craig Mazin and Scot Armstrong brilliantly blur lines of taste with unnerving sense of humor. I read several reviews panning “The Hangover 2” as a glossy clone, more than a sequel. Where the characters and story by Jon Lucas and Scott Moore were novel and clever, this one is formulaic, but punctures the envelope and is wildly funny. This is an authentic sequel in that a lot of the humor derives from the original.

A lot is familiar. Instead of the baby and the tiger, we have the Zen Buddhist Monk, who has taken a vow of silence, and the drug dealing monkey that smokes. Stu (Helms) again falls for the stripper, this time beautiful Kimmy (stunning Yasmin Lee). However, about 2 minutes into the scene with Stu and Kimmy, as Stu attempts to reassemble his missing day, we get the ominous hysterical punch line. Phillips’s genius is leading us down the familiar path, and then propels us beyond: where no one has gone before. Ken Jeong reprises as Mr. Chow–this time as part of the Wolf Pack. Before the collective brain freeze, Allan (goofy Zach Galifianakis) received a text from Chow, “Let’s party bitches.” Jeong could never top his naked crow bar moment, but he comes close and is hilarious. Yes, Mike Tyson is back, and actually surprises.

Not surprisingly, as “The Hangover Part II” opens frazzled Bradley Cooper as leader Phil, calls Tracy (gorgeous and intense Sasha Barrese), Doug’s (Justin Bartha) wife. Phil confesses again, “We really f***ed up this time…” The crew was at an exclusive resort in Thailand, I’m thinking Phuket, for Stu’s wedding. 2 years have passed, and Stu has found the love of his life in Lauren (beautiful and smart Jamie Chung). Phil, Stu, and Allan wake up in some seedy hotel in Bangkok. Stu has the Mike Tyson tattoo on the side of his face. Allan’s head is shaved. There is monkey wearing a denim jacket. Lauren’s brother Teddy (easy going Mason Lee) is missing. There is a detached finger with a Stanford ring—apparently Teddy’s.

The last thing the dudes remember was having a beer around the campfire bachelor party at the resort beach. Of course Allan vehemently claims ignorance. Making matters worse: Lauren’s father Fohn (solid unforgiving Nirut Sirchanya) hates Stu with a passion. At the wedding rehearsal dinner he compares Stu to bland Thai rice porridge. Also protégé Teddy, Stanford premed at 16 years old, is the light of his life. Stu may never recover. With straight man Doug (Bartha) back at the resort, The Wolf Pack gradually reconstruct the day and search for Teddy. All looks lost. They must contend with mysterious businessman Kingsley (manic and funny Paul Giamatti) this time around. High jinks accelerate with Russian mobsters, Buddhist monastery, and raunchy strip clubs.

The upside and downside of “The Hangover Part II” is familiarity. Mostly upside. Granted it is predictable in the endgame. The rest is wicked chaotic genius. It is all about the fuzzy journey. Bradley Cooper is the strong lead. He is movie star handsome and the anchor in this raucous comedy. As the great comic reactor, he makes “2” work again. He is not asked to be funny; he is charmingly fun. Ed Helms is brilliant as the butt of the jokes, and he does this with natural grace. Zach Galifianakis returns annoyingly as dysfunctional Allan. We can never tell whether Allan is an idiot savant or just an idiot. Galifianakis is unwavering in Allan’s self awareness void. However, he gives Allan a good heart, albeit misguided. Ultimately, brotherhood and friendship underlies and comes full circle in “The Hangover 2”, much like “The Hangover”. So despite the guys getting the crap beat out of them by a staff wielding monk; we pull for them, because they pull for each other.

“The Hangover Part 2” is a great looking movie as well. The opening shots of the mountainous islands in the seas around Thailand are breathtaking. The resort and beaches are beautiful. This is also offset by the dichotomy of Bangkok. We see the clustered streets of the clubs and vendors balances against the stunning skyline view of a luxury hotel tower. My bud Robert, visual effects supervisor, seamlessly made the monkey smoke cigarettes, among numerous other effects.

“The Hangover Part II” is the funniest movie of the year. You know the drill: Stay through the end credits. Can’t figure out how Phillips makes a sequel, given that Allan is the only one not married. I’m sure they figure this out. And look forward to seeing that one as well—the upside of familiarity.

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