FILM REVIEW: The Hangover II (15)

Todd Phillips’s hair of the dog to the highest grossing comedy film of 2009 is a 101-minute alcohol- and drug-fuelled bender that strands the same beleaguered characters in the same hellish nightmare and watches them squirm.

The location may have changed from sun-baked Las Vegas to tropical Thailand but The Hangover Part II rests lazily on its moldering laurels, engineering familiar scenarios to inflict the maximum physical and emotional distress on the two-dimensional characters.

The sequel curbs a few excesses - less plot, fewer laughs, less fun - and merrily chugs down a cocktail of racist, sexist and homophobic jibes that leave a nasty taste in the mouth.

Phillips’s film is crass and offensive and doesn’t paint Thailand or its people in a particularly favourable light, trading on stereotypes for the sake of a snigger.

Almost without exception, the male characters are unlikeable and deserve everything they get while women serve two purposes: to answer the telephone or stare adoring into their man’s bloodshot eyes.

Dentist Stu Price (Ed Helms) has fallen madly in love with Lauren (Jamie Chung) and they plan to marry in a traditional ceremony in Thailand.

Best friends Phil Wenneck (Bradley Cooper), Doug Billings (Justin Bartha) and Alan Garner (Zach Galifianakis) are invited and they take the long-haul flight with Lauren’s 16-year-old brother Teddy (Mason Lee), who is destined for a career in medicine.

The quintet arrives at the hotel resort and greets wives Tracy (Sasha Barrese) and Stephanie (Gillian Vigman) then celebrates with a beer and toasted marshmallows on the beach.

Doug makes an early exit to his hotel room while the other men continue to party.

The next morning, Phil, Stu and Alan wake in a sleazy Bangkok hotel room, with pounding headaches and no recollection of the night before, and in Alan’s case, considerably less hair.

“It’s happened again,” moans Stu as the trio scours the city for Teddy, crossing paths with shady businessman Kingsley (Paul Giamatti), flamboyant criminal Mr Chow (Ken Jeong) and a larcenous monkey.

The Hangover Part II is a tasteless, preposterous and ultimately pointless tale of east meets west which careens from one improbable set piece to the next including the concealment of a dead body and a high-speed car chase.

Cooper’s natural charm wilts in the heat while poor Helms is the butt of most of the jokes, literally so for a sequence at a dancing club where the screenwriters become sniggering schoolboys.

The groom-to-be’s showdown with his sneering father-in-law, who understandably doesn’t want Stu polluting the gene pool, falls flat like the rest of the film.

Galifianakis is obnoxious from his opening scene and we struggle to comprehend his presence at the wedding, other than to drive the other protagonists to drink.

Welcome to the lifeless, soulless party.

By Damon Smith

:: SWEARING :: SEX :: VIOLENCE :: RATING: 4/10

Released: May 26 (UK & Ireland), 101 mins