The Hangover Part II Is Like The Hangover Meets The Hangover
It obviously started with a list and a "Duuuuuuuuude!" The list: Thailand, monkey, cocaine, a corpse, Bangkok back alleys, griminess, kidnapping, arson, facial tattoo, strip club, ladyboy, Russian thugs, gunshot wound, more cocaine, international crime syndicate, noodles, Ken Jeong's penis, speedboat, overbearing Asian father, ladyboy, cocaine, ladyboy, cocaine, cocaine, Zach Galifianakis non sequitur, ladyboy, and scene. Then, inevitably: "Duuuuuuuuude, and the monkey should TOTALLY smoke cigarettes! Like a person! DUUUUUUUUUDE. MORE COCAINE!!!"
As expected, the "plot" of The Hangover Part II is just a wire frame on which to hang a series of predictably outrageous set pieces in which predictably terrible things happen to Ed Helms's face. Which is to say, it's a Mad Libs clone of the first Hangover, only with a monkey instead of a tiger (DOWNGRADE!), and an old wheelchair dude instead of a baby, and a be-nubbined merkin instead of Ken Jeong's actual nubbin. The monkey sucks on the nubbin. Galifianakis says, "When a monkey nibbles on a penis, it's funny in any language." That is the movie's best line.
Here's roughly what happens: Stu (Helms) is engaged to that girl from the Real World: Whatever who is an "actress" now. Because she is Asian, she has traditional parents who want her to get married in Asia. She also has a younger brother named Teddy, who is also Asian, which means that he is a genius child-doctor who plays the cello and does not know how to party. Everyone goes to Thailand. Some stuff happens, Zach Galifianakis says something weird ("I noticed that it's a fishing village—is there a Long John Silver's on the island?"), and Helms, Galifianakis, and Bradley Cooper wake up in a shitty Bangkok hotel room with a bunch of cocaine, that monkey, the aforementioned nubbin, and no Teddy.
From there—as per the first Hangover—the film becomes a kind of reverse whodunit, in which the trio attempts to piece together exactly what kind of terrible it they dun the night before, track down the missing Teddy, and get back in time for Stu's wedding. Next stop: waggling ladyboy dongs.
I don't mean to suggest that The Hangover Part II is bad—or even particularly offensive (the film's treatment of transwomen walks a surprisingly delicate line between enlightened and exploitative). It's not. It's fine, really. If you loved The Hangover (like you probably did), you will cry your pants with joy. If you merely tolerated The Hangover (like me), you will like this one slightly better, because it is slightly better. But I just don't think that either film is particularly special or worthy of the infinity-grillion dollars that The Hangover Part II is about to make (by the end of 2011, this movie will be the world's fourth largest economy, just above Germany).
Because as much as I enjoy Zach Galifianakis saying weird stuff (and I have since before you were born), there's just no humanity to hang on to here—and, to me, that's what separates a good comedy from a great comedy. I don't believe that these characters would ever be friends, I don't like spending time with them, and I do not care what happens to them or their weddings or their penises or their adoptive babies or their relationship with Mike Tyson. And sorry, but that's lazy, shitty writing. Adequate entertainment, maybe, but my pants remained dry throughout.
The monkey is cute, though. I'll give them that. It is cute when a monkey does cocaine.