‘The Hangover Part II’ Review: The Party Boys are Back for Another Night Out With Added Laughs

The Hangover Part II

Warner Bros.

Rated R

Running Time:  101 Minutes

Grade: B

In this summer’s race of movie sequels, the party boys of The Hangover Part II are laggards. After all, Captain Jack Sparrow is back for his fourth Pirates of the Caribbean adventure. Teen wizard Harry Potter brings his franchise to a close with his eighth film and X-Men: First Class is the fifth movie featuring the mutant superheroes.

The Wolfpack, buds Doug (Justin Bartha), Alan (Zach Galifianakis), Phil (Bradley Cooper) and Stu (Ed Helms) are back for just their second outing, which helps explain how Hangover co-writer/director Todd Phillips and new-to-the-franchise screenwriters Craig Mazin and Scot Armstrong are simply able to successfully duplicate the comic formula of the first movie without worries.

Another boy’s night out comedy, this time moving the craziness to Bangkok for Stu’s wedding, feels warm, familiar and fun instead of redundant on just its second try. There’s no reason to fix what isn’t broken after two adventures. If the Wolfpack returns for a third adventure, Phillips will need to come up with a few more surprises.

Memories of their Las Vegas bachelor party hang over them like a curse as Doug (Bartha), Alan (Galifianakis) and Phil (Cooper) travel to Thailand for Stu’s (Helms) wedding to the pretty Lauren (Jamie Chung). Some beers at a beach resort bonfire go out-of-control and the boys wake up in a rundown Bangkok hotel missing Stu’s future brother-in-law Teddy (newcomer Mason Lee).

It’s another go-around with black outs, a missing friend and a frantic race to retrace steps to make things right and get back in time for the wedding.

The Hangover Part II is the second new comedy in six months from the prolific Todd Phillips (Due Date starring Galifianakis and Robert Downey Jr. came out last November) and the one thing that’s clear about the polished-looking comedy is Phillips’ skill at casting.

It doesn’t matter if the Wolfpack is in Vegas or Bangkok or points in-between, Cooper, Helms, Galifianakis and Bartha play off each beautifully and create a spirit of friendship that makes all their outrageous behavior funnier.

Mazin (Rocketman, Scary Movie 3 and Scary Movie 4) and Armstrong (Old School, Road Trip, Starsky & Hutch and School For Scoundrels) make good use of the characters they inherited.

Jeffrey Tambor, Ken Jeong and Mike Tyson return in key supporting roles with a capuchin monkey being the best new addition when it comes to laughs. Who can say no to a smoking monkey?

The film’s better slapstick moments involve a trip to a Buddhist monastery, where the boys are punished for talking and a car chase through the Bangkok streets with drug dealers in hot pursuit.

With the exception of a return trip to a strip club in search of clues to Teddy’s whereabouts and a gallery of photos at the closing credits (just like the first movie), Hangover Part II turns out to be surprisingly restrained when it comes to slapstick shockers.

In fact, Kristin Wiig and her Bridesmaids posse out-gross Bradley Cooper and his Wolfpack pals in terms of outrageous humor.

Perhaps Phillips believes that key to the Hangover franchise continuing is the importance of friendship over bad behavior. Now that’s a surprise good enough to raise hopes for Hangover III. One question: Where will the Wolfpack hit next?

Grade: B

Distributor: Warner Bros.

Director: Todd Phillips

Scriptwriter: Todd Phillips, Craig Mazin and Scot Armstrong

Cinematographer: Lawrence Sher

Cast: Ed Helms, Bradley Cooper, Ken Jeong, Justin Bartha, Zach Galifianakis, Mike Tyson and Jamie Chung

Running Time:  101 minutes

Producers: Green Hat Films and Legendary Pictures

Rating: R

Release Date: May 26, 2011

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