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Hollywood Product: The Hangover Part II

Audiences will laugh their way through it, but they'll hate themselves in the morning



GENRE: Comedy of men continuing to behave badly

THE PITCH: The morning after a Vegas bachelor party — I mean, a Thailand rehearsal dinner — hungover groom Stu (Ed Helms) and his pals Phil and Alan (Bradley Cooper and Zach Galifianakis) search Bangkok's seediest corners to find the bride's missing brother, Teddy (Mason Lee).

MONEY SHOTS: The guys discover that Alan keeps a shrine to their Vegas weekend in his room. The "Wolfpack" awakens in a state of unbelievable filth. A video shows a shirtless Stu hollering "Fuck tha police!" during a street riot. A speedboat with a dragon painted on the side has some kitschy "Miami Vice" charm. A monkey smokes cigarettes, which may not be appropriate, but is artfully done.

BEST LINE: "See that? It's orange juice with a napkin over it. Know why? So nobody roofies me," Stu pointedly informs Alan at his "Bachelor's Brunch."

BEST REPEATED LINE: "I have a demon in me." The first time Stu confesses it, Helms sells it as a serious, anguished admission of self-loathing. Later in the movie, he repeats it and sets up a joke too good to spoil.

BEST GALIFIANAKIS LINE: "My uncle once said he saw an albino polar bear." Galifianakis still nails out-of-nowhere one-liners.

WORST LINE: "Teddy is my dad's prized possession," says Stu's fiancée (Jamie Chung). So Teddy's not just the equivalent of the last film's missing groom, but also the last film's missing sports car.

FLESH FACTOR: Several times characters end up face to, uh, face with dude's dangling junk, which turns up when least expected. We become very familiar with the physique of abrasive crook Mr. Chow (Ken Jeong).

FASHION STATEMENTS: Stu wakes up with a face tattoo like the previous film's Mike Tyson (setting off a real-world lawsuit from Tyson's tattoo artist). Monkey wears a blue-jean vest with the Rolling Stones' logo on back. A severed finger sports a Stanford ring. In this film, Galifianakis comes across more like a spoiled, rich man-child than a nascent sex offender, so he frequently wears tennis whites or ascots with pipes. He also dons a straw hat after shaving his head.

SOUNDTRACK HIGHLIGHTS: Danzig's "Black Hell" ominously tolls over the opening credits, like "Thirteen" last time. The guys awaken to "The Beast in Me." Helms sings another tune about their horrible exploits, but it's funnier when Jeong croons "Time in a Bottle."

THE TEMPORARY TATTOO ARTIST: Mel Gibson was originally cast as a tattoo artist, but the actors and crew protested. Liam Neeson filled in for Gibson, but when director Todd Phillips decided to reshoot his seen, the Oscar-winner wasn't available, so Nick Cassavetes replaces him.

POP REFERENCES: Alan calls his dad (Jeffrey Tambor) "Pop-pop," a shout-out to Tambor's nickname on "Arrested Development." The awakening scene just might be evoking Apocalypse Now.

BETTER THAN THE FIRST ONE? No. The Hangover Part II follows the first film's jokes and plot points so closely, it's like they didn't rewrite the first script so much as cut-and-pasted it. The film abdicates the element of surprise even more than conventional sequels. Maybe they'll mix up the formula with a third film.

THE BOTTOM LINE: The Hangover movies use broad comedy to take on film noir ideas involving mysteries, crimes and the human capacity for ugly behavior. The Hangover Part II goes darker than its predecessor, until you almost wish you were watching a thriller. Helms, Galifianakis and Cooper remain a fine comedy team and you'll laugh most of the way through, but you'll hate yourself in the morning.

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