You know, this isn't all that original. Even for a sequel, it's unashamedly derivative.

But I kept thinking, as I gasped, sometimes with laughter and sometimes from shock, that "The Hangover Part II" still is hilarious more often than it's not. Again, this is for grownup audiences only - and it's not for the faint of heart even if you are a grownup.

Set two years after the first film, you'll see many of the same characters, with a focus on the Wolf Pack: Bradley Cooper returns as Phil, Ed Helms is Stu, Justin Bartha is Doug and Zach Galifianakis is Alan (a "live-in son").

Stu is getting married, for real this time, to Laura (Jamie Chung) at her home in Thailand. Stu decides, considering what happened when this group got together before, that a bachelor party isn't a good idea. They do meet up around a bonfire, and accompanying them is Lauren's brilliant younger brother Teddy (Mason Lee).

Of course, the inevitable occurs: They wake up in a seedy Bangkok hotel, with no idea where they are or how they got there. Not only do they not realize their own whereabouts, but they also can't find Teddy, who seems to have left a finger behind.

The movie throws in a few clever twists on the formula that worked so well in the first movie (and before that in the PG-13-rated "Dude, Where's My Car?"). The guys have only a certain amount of time to piece together what happened before the wedding to find Teddy and arrive safely at the ceremony.

Along the way, they meet former "acquaintance" Mr. Chow (Ken Jeong), and even Mike Tyson reappears for a couple of minutes. New faces include Paul Giamatti as a violent-tempered criminal.

The performers appear to be having just as much fun as the audience, which turned out in droves for its first midnight showing and packed theaters during the long holiday weekend.

Those who enjoyed the first movie are unlikely to be disappointed by this one, which might be even more risqué than its predecessor. (Be sure to stick around to see the photos from the lost night. These are eyebrow-raising indeed.)

While nothing can match the originality and surprise that the first show provided, the laughs are every bit as hearty in what has, I imagine, become a new comedy franchise.

 

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