There is a lot of monkey business in this movie, and I see a trend developing. First, the little pirate monkey in “Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides,” and now the cute primate that latches on to the lost boys of “H2.” One thing is for sure: If the show’s not funny, you can always cut to the monkey.
I’m not saying “H2” isn’t funny, but it sure looks familiar even though our friends Phil, Stu, Alan and Doug have relocated their shenanigans to Bangkok. Frankly, I don’t think any of them are welcome in Las Vegas anymore.
Two years have passed and Stu (Ed Helms) has replaced his tooth and is engaged to Lauren (Jamie Cheng). Their wedding is scheduled to take place in Thailand, and Stu wisely opts out of a bachelor party, settling for a pancake breakfast instead. But things have a funny way of happening with this group and on the eve of his wedding, the four, plus Lauren’s younger brother, Teddy (Mason Lee), sit around a beach campfire at the Thai resort clinking their beer bottles and then — oops, it happens again.
This time, Doug (Justin Bartha) is back at the hotel, but the others awake to find themselves in downtown Bangkok in a filthy, trashed hotel room crawling with roaches. In an ice bucket they find a human finger, and under a blanket the inimitable Mr. Chow (Ken Jeong), the diminutive, foul-mouthed gangster from the first movie. Oh, and the monkey makes her entrance here, too.
From that point this plays almost the same as the original three try desperately to locate the missing Teddy. Using the familiar “let’s retrace our steps” plot device, they ping from strip clubs to tattoo parlors as time ticks down and more than one character warns them, “Bangkok has him now.”
Also returning to this second installment is director Todd Phillips, and if you thought the first one was raunchy, this one redefines the term. Admittedly, there was a lot at stake for this sequel. The first one was actually termed a risk for summer release because of its R rating. The general theory up to then was an R-rated comedy could not earn money, until this became one of the highest grossing comedies of all time.
So love it or hate it, moviegoers now have more than enough R-rated comedies to choose from. “Bridesmaids” is the latest example of the raunchy, bawdy, gross-out comedy taken to extreme, that is, until “H2,” which pushes the limits right to the edge of good humor, not to mention taste. Oh, forget that good taste that took a hike in the original.
Nothing, I mean nothing, is off limits for this impromptu tour of Bangkok (as you can imagine, just the name of the city gets irreverent treatment). So much so that most of it is unprintable, but just imagine a Buddhist monk in a topless bar doing tequila shots, and you have an idea. Sticking to the formula, Phil takes the lead again and shepherds the hysterical Stu while Alan is just as off as he ever was.
If “H1” made Galifianakis a star, then “H2” will do nothing to tarnish it, even if it is entirely derivative. The pudgy, bleary eyed man-child can illicit laughter just by staring into the camera and only Jeong gets more laughs mainly because he is wisely given more screen time this second time around.
With Stu married in the finale, the only bachelor left is Alan, so the possibility of an “H3” is very real. Fair warning: just don’t monkey around with it.