If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.
That must have been the mantra when making “The Hangover Part II,” a near identical twin to the original 2009 blockbuster comedy.
This sequel is more of the same, as “Hangover’s” original director (Todd Phillips) and cast (Ed Helms, Bradley Cooper and Zach Galifianakis) reunite to reprise the first movie’s storyline and raunchy R-rated humor. The only difference: the setting is now Bangkok rather than Las Vegas.
The sequel’s predictability is the point. If you loved it the first time, you’ll likely be happy with deja vu all over again.
Which makes it doubly ironic that the movie’s strongest character is its least predictable. That would be Alan, the idiot tag-along so brilliantly played by Galifianikis.
Most beloved comic actors are funny due to the consistency and fixed nature of their reactions. Their comic personas are set early on and we laugh because we have grown fond of the familiar.
Steve Martin splutters. Adam Sandler gets angry. Jim Carrey lets his face go goofy and his limbs rubbery.
In a previous era, Jack Benny hemmed and hawed if asked to part with a nickel. Bob Hope was the master of the leering double take. And Harpo Marx grinned devilishly and honked his bicycle horn.
In contrast, Galifianakis has built his comic persona on being plain weird. In the original “Hangover” and now the sequel, in “Dinner for Schmucks” and “Due Date,” you never knew what his characters were going to do next, though it was a good bet it would be something outrageous.
Part of Galifianakis’ charm is his look. He’s squat, hirsute and plump as a dumpling through the middle. He looks more like a walking Muppet than a real person — but a Muppet who delights in making a baby he’s holding appear to masturbate itself, one of the more memorable gags in the first “Hangover.
Sometimes his characters are smart, or at least cunning. Often they are startling stupid, or at least childlike. At the same time, his characters also have a sexual component, though it tends to be dark, questionable or decidedly askew.
In “Hangover Part II,” Galifianakis’ bits and lines are the ones that have you laughing loudest, mostly because they are such wild non-sequiturs and so out-there.
He again portrays Alan, a socially awkward, wealthy, sexually ambiguous fellow who still lives with his parents. “I’m a stay-at-home son,” he announces, seemingly proud to make the claim.
Alan is given to uttering sweeping pronouncements, all spoken with an assurance and self-confidence that belie their content. “When a monkey nibbles on a penis, it’s funny in any language,” he assures his pals.
Later in the movie, bidding a fond farewell to the penis-nibbling monkey, he plaintively tells the primate, “I wish monkeys could Skype. Maybe one day …”
The monkey is the stand-in, of course, for the tiger that roamed through the first movie.
It shows up, just as the tiger did, when the three buddies, in Thailand for the wedding of Helms’s dentist character, wake up in a dingy hotel room to discover that they’ve somehow lost the Helm’s prospective brother-in-law (Mason Lee).
As they try desperately to reconstruct the previous 24 hours to figure out where he might be, they find themselves encountering all sorts of wacky and potentially dangerous adventures.
The first movie was funny; this one is, too. But as it goes on its carbon-copy way, more than a whiff of staleness creeps in.
As with the original, the really hardcore jokes in “Part II” are saved for sight gags in the photos that flash on screen during the final credits. If nothing else, this now-established protocol guarantees that you’ll sit through the movie to the end.