Movie Review: The Hangover Part II? What Happened in Vegas Should've Stayed in Vegas

It's been there, drank that as Bradley Cooper, Zach Galifianakis and Ed Helms return in an unsatisfying retread

By Matt Stevens May 27, 2011 2:00 AMTags
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Review in a Hurry: Same story, different city. The Wolfpack is back for more morning-after madness, though this time a destination wedding leads to one whack night in Bangkok. Despite a few ha-has from the ensuing brouhaha, this buzz-kill follow-up suffers from a pervasive sense of been there, drunk that.

The Bigger Picture: Sure, it's great to hang with the boys from the hilarious sleeper hit of 2009. But dudes, we want a sequel with real surprises, not a retread that slavishly follows the formula and structure of the original. That level of familiarity breeds more contempt than comedy.

The film's running it's-happening-again joke works only the first time, when Phil (Bradley Cooper) calls the wedding party to report things have gone horribly awry. We flashback a week earlier as Phil and friends Alan (Zach Galifianakis) and Doug (Justin Bartha) jet to Thailand to attend their buddy Stu's (Ed Helms) nuptials at a seaside resort.

To avoid any Vegas-style debauchery, Stu forgoes the bachelor party, but two nights before the ceremony, he agrees to one beer on the beach with his buds. For reasons we learn later (and it's a weak device), the guys are drugged again and wake up in a seedy Bangkok hotel with no memory of what happened.

This time they've misplaced Stu's future brother-in-law, teenaged Teddy (Mason Lee), and their panicked search involves a silent Buddhist monk, Russian thugs, Thai strippers, and a drug-dealing monkey. You know a movie's in trouble when it relies on monkey antics for gags.

Helms tries to infuse some manic energy, and man-child Galifianakis deadpans a few amusing lines, though they sound mined from his standup act. Mostly this forced, not-so-funny adventure just puts the guys through the humiliating paces before the inevitable, predictable payoff.

Also adding to the déjà vu, kooky Chow (Ken Jeong) acts all crazy and goes full monty, while Mike Tyson, who should never ever sing, makes the requisite cameo.

A totally unnecessary trip. What happened in Vegas should've stayed in Vegas.

The 180—a Second Opinion: Our favorite merlot-hating wine snob Paul Giamatti guests as an enigmatic crime boss. With that menacing glare and quick-trigger temper, he should definitely play more heavies.