'The Hangover Part II'
(Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms, Zach Galifianakis, Ken Jeong, Justin Bartha, et al / R / 117 mins)
Overview: A modest bachelor brunch devolves into a wild weekend in Bangkok when the gang travels to Thailand to see Stu get married. Still traumatized by memories of the Las Vegas fiasco, Stu (Ed Helms) vows to keep his pre-wedding partying to the bare minimum. But when Phil (Bradley Cooper), Doug (Justin Bartha), and Alan (Zach Galifianakis) show up, Stu's low-key brunch makes their previous Vegas fiasco look like a family trip to Disneyland.
Verdict: It's not a good sign that the frenetic denizens of this sequel to the 2009 hit comedy keep declaiming variations on the theme of "I can't believe it's happening again." I wouldn't say that "The Hangover Part II" is a carbon copy of the original, but only because no one knows about carbon paper any more. I can't believe how precisely everything does happen again, except that what was fresh and surprising in Las Vegas turns rancid and predictable in Bangkok, where yet another wedding is scheduled to take place. (The director, as before, is Todd Phillips.)
This time the groom-to-be is Stu, the dentist played by Ed Helms, who is likened by the scornful father of his Asian bride to white rice pudding. Mr. Helms gets to do a funny riff on that description toward the end, but it's one of the few bright spots. Bradley Cooper's formerly engaging Phil has grown vulgar and unpleasant, Zach Galifianakis's Alan dispenses mirthless insults at every opportunity, and Ken Jeong's effeminate gangster, Mr. Chow, is given much more screen time than before with even less justification. Not everything is slavishly duplicated, though. Instead of waking up in a Las Vegas hotel room to find a baby, the hung-over buddies wake up in a Thai hotel room to find a capuchin monkey.