Directed by: Todd Phillips
Written by:Craig Mazin, Scot Armstrong, Todd Phillips
Starring: Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms, Zach Galifianakis, Justin Bartha, Ken Jeong, Paul Giamatti
Released: May 26, 2011
Grade: B

There’s a Thai restaurant just off campus at the University of Queensland where I eat lunch at least once a week with some great work friends.  I order the same dish every time.  The lady behind the counter usually smiles and asks if I want to try something different but I cannot be persuaded.  I enjoy my cashew chicken and I’m not yet ready to venture into other parts of the menu.

That seems to be the approach adopted by writer-director Todd Phillips with The Hangover: Part II.  The first film was one of the biggest success stories from the 2009 cinematic year.  Despite not featuring any big-name stars, it grossed $467m internationally and went on to win the Golden Globe for best musical or comedy.

Phillips knows what his customers want and now’s not the time to be changing the recipe.  Sticking with the same winning formula, Phillips has made a near carbon copy of the original.  This makes it less surprising but still entertaining.

After a brief introduction, we get to the scene where the guys wake up in a filthy hotel room (this time in Bangkok) with no recollection of the previous night.  One of them is missing and the rest have roughly 24 hours to track him down and make it to the wedding on time.

What follows is a chaotic adventure featuring everything from an alcohol-loving monk to a chain-smoking monkey.  It won’t “blow you away” but you have to chuckle at some of the bizarre situations in which they find themselves.  As with the previous film, some of the biggest laughs are saved for the very end.  A humorous photo montage fills in many of the remaining blanks.

The film’s key-note performance again comes from Zach Galifianakis as Alan.  How is it possible for someone to be so likeable and unlikeable at the same time?  Despite all of his insanely inappropriate comments (some left me cringing in my seat with horror), you’ll still feel sympathetic.  You just want to see things work out for him in the end.

The Hangover: Part II is fun for the most part but things felt less random and more scripted this time around.  Some events aren’t as exciting as they should be (such as when Bradley Cooper gets shot) and the location of the missing friend is resolved too simply.  More should also have been made of Paul Giamatti’s role as a ruthless entrepreneur.  That said, I can’t dislike any film that manages to weave the 1982 Flock Of Seagulls hit “I Ran” into the soundtrack.

It’ll be interesting to see where they take this series if the studio continues with further instalments.  What does the future hold?  Can they keep repeating the same storyline and expect to draw a huge audience?  Will I keep ordering my cashew chicken at lunch?  Only time will tell.