Who's In It:Bradley Cooper, Zach Galifianakis, Ed Helms, Ken Jeong, Justin Bartha, Jeffrey Tambor, Paul Giamatti, Mason Lee
The Basics:Swap out Las Vegas, the tiger, the baby, the missing tooth and the prostitute for Bangkok, a monkey, a face tattoo, a missing finger and another prostitute. Keep the plot, the same solve-a-mystery momentum, the same comic beats and the same Ed Helms screaming, Bradley Cooper d-baggery and Zach G defective weirdness. It's the film equivalent of eating Lucky Charms cereal for dinner two nights in a row out of the same bowl that you didn't bother to wash.
What's The Deal: Okay, yes, movies like this--pointless copycat sequels to already pointless comedies--are, technically, what's wrong with Hollywood today and we should all be full of rage over it. I get that. But the fact is I laughed all the way through it, just like I laughed all the way through the first one. Is it about anything besides the unspoken, repressed, anarchic desires of Average Joes? Do the characters develop into anything we didn't see or understand the first time around? Is it any more valuable to the history of cinema than Mannequin 2: On the Move? Will you care that it's 100% rehash from start to finish? The answer to all of these questions is, of course, "no." And I don't care either. I laughed the emptiest of laughs and I ate a chocolate Haagen-Dazs bar to fill the gnawing void.
A More Even Distribution Of Heavy Comedy Lifting:The first installment belonged almost entirely to Zach Galifianakis's left-field performance. He saved scenes that weren't even funny with a word, a gesture or a look. This time around Helms gets to do more than simply react and be terrified and Ken Jeong's crazy criminal plays a bigger part, but it's still mostly Galifianakis's show. So if his brand of awkward discomfort and his parody of self-centered behavior still rubs you the wrong way, then this isn't the movie for you.
Academics Writing Papers On Male Cultural Hegemony In Bro Comedies, Take Note: Peel back the layers here and you'll find a deep well of every problematic thing these kinds of films have ever been accused of. Cooper's character is casually racist and never put in check for it; the women are endlessly forgiving, compliant and unquestioning; the assumption that guys are allowed to cause all the destruction of property and life they please and to be as self-destructive as possible without consequence is fully indulged and just considered a given in this movie's universe. Call it "We Do What We Want-ism" and then go watch Tool Academy to see the way it plays out when real-life numbskulls act that way. Of course, if you're actually having genuine brain-thoughts about this movie then you really are probably writing a paper and not just watching it to have a stupid good time.
PS: I liked it when the monkey smoked cigarettes.