New on DVD: The Hangover Part II (2011)

The Hangover Part II isn’t smarter than Bridesmaids and lacks the emotional heft of a truly great comedy like Local Hero or Groundhog Day.

But if you’ve got a high threshold for raunch, it’s a hoot.

Despite a change of locale – sinful Bangkok takes the role previously played by sinful Las Vegas – this sequel is a recycling of characters and incidents from the first film. I’d view that as a liability, but I was usually laughing too hard.

The plot finds Stu (Ed Helms), the straight-laced dentist, getting married to the beautiful daughter of a wealthy Thai businessman.The nuptials will take place at a seaside resort in Thailand and all of Stu’s buddies are there for the shindig.

An evening of shared manliness on the beach somehow turns into an all-night debauch, with Stu, the sardonic Phil (Bradley Cooper) and the infantile Alan (Zach Galifianakis) awakening in a seedy Bangkok hotel room.

With them is Chow (Ken Jeong), the anarchistic, motormouthed gangster from the first film, a monkey wearing a denim Rolling Stones vest, empty liquor bottles, a gigantic roach and, most disturbingly, a human finger.

Alan has lost his hair overnight. Stu now has an impressive tattoo…on his face.

“I think it’s happened again,” Phil moans.

A class ring identifies the digit as belonging to Teddy (Mason Lee), the bride’s 16-year-old brother who was part of the boys’ night out and now has vanished into Bangkok’s sexually-charged underworld. With no memory of the last 12 hours, Stu and the boys must somehow retrace their steps, find Teddy and get back to the resort in time for the ceremony.

Director Todd Phillips and his fellow writers delight in upping the ante with every new revelation, the most eyebrow-raising involving a bar/brothel staffed by beautiful trannies.

It may not be deep, but credit Hangover II with some deliciously subversive ideas about the American male and masculinity. It’s fitting that the film’s theme song is Johnny Cash’s rendition of “The Beast in Me.”

About the Author

Robert W. Butler is a lifelong Kansas City area resident, a graduate of Shawnee Mission East High School and the William Allen White School of Journalism at the University of Kansas. For several decades he was the movie editor of the Kansas City Star; he now writes a movie-themed blog at butlerscinemascene.com. He's married to the former Ellen Vaughan; they are the proud parents of LA-based comedian, writer, director and TV personality Blair Butler. He used to be a dog person but now lives with two cats, thus demonstrating the flexibility of the human condition.

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