117 posts categorized "R"


Field plows into frumpy, fantasizing 'Doris'

Sally Field as the title character in "Hello, My Name Is Doris." Seacia Para/Roadside Attractions

Generally speaking, when an extraordinarily gifted actress like Sally Field, a two-time Academy Award winner (Norma Rae, Places in the Heart), is out front, a film is strong enough to warrant a trip to the neighborhood movie house.

That’s almost the case with "Hello, My Name Is Doris," but not quite.

Field, nominated for a third Oscar as Mary Todd Lincoln in Steven Spielberg’s Lincoln in 2012, pours her acting soul into Doris. She’s a 60-something New Yorker from Staten Island who has just lost her mother and now must fend for herself at work, with her friends and, perhaps most importantly, when she’s alone.

Not unlike Doris, however, there’s just too much baggage in this layered comic-drama for even a gifted pro like Field to carry herself. Doris is not just conflicted, as any lonely woman in her 60s might be after losing her closest human contact (her mother).

In many ways, Doris is still a teenager in her mind, even though she’s nearing retirement age at the office where she keeps accounts in a cubicle that can barely contain her volatile angst. Let’s just say her path to happiness and mental stability is as cluttered as her home, where she throws a fit when relatives and a psychologist try to get her to part with a hoarded single snow ski she has no use for.

There’s enough going on in Hello, My Name Is Doris to suggest that Field would have a Field day (if you’ll pardon the pun) rumbling through the mental mess that is her title character. Unfortunately, this tale of an aging wallflower desperate to blossom into a relationship with the handsome young new art director named Max (John Fremont) careens off into something that’s a little bit Walter Mitty (an uncontrollable fantasizer) and a lot made-for-TV movie material.

Director Michael Showalter, who also co-wrote the script, is working with material first explored in an eight-minute NYU student film. Expanded to 90 minutes, however, Hello, My Name Is Doris runs out of creative gas, much like so many of those funny Saturday Night Live skits that died on the feature-film vine.

Field is fine, more than fine, in fact. She jumps into the lovable frump bag that is Doris body and soul. There are no complaints from this aisle seat about Fremont, currently starring on the small screen as Schmidt opposite Zooey Deschanel on the Fox sitcom New Girl. And it’s fun to see Tyne Daly as Roz, a steadfast best friend to Doris.

Unfortunately, Hello, My Name Is Doris is not constantly compelling enough to live on eccentricity alone on the big screen. It might play well on TV in prime time, but somewhere down the list of cable channels that attend more to matters of the heart than matters of essential cinema.


MPAA rating: R (profanity)
90 minutes
Jalapeño rating: 2½ (out of 4)


'Whiskey Tango Foxtrot,' an intoxicating war drama

Lance Cpl. Andrew Coughlin (Evan Jonigkeit) and Kim Baker (Tina Fey) use their weapons of choice in a "Whiskey Tango Foxtrot" firefight. (Paramount Pictures)

Here’s my only real beef with Whiskey Tango Foxtrot: It’s a witty, gritty war-correspondent drama posing, or more appropriately being marketed, as a comedy, which it is not.

Is it because Tina Fey, one of our most gifted comedians, is out front as a stateside cable news producer thrown into the explosive turmoil of the Afghanistan war zone in the early 2000s?

Could it be because the co-directors, Glenn Ficarra and John Requa, co-wrote the hilarious darkly comic Bad Santa and aimed for something like the late Robert Altman’s comic-war drama MASH of 1970?

Well, “Atten-hut,” film-making soldiers. What you have marched to the screen here is a superbly nuanced drama (with occasional comic turns, granted) about a cable news desk jockey.

Kim Baker (Fey) is a producer so mired down in a life where she “writes news copy for dumb pretty people to read” that she’s willing to venture to a war-torn country where fecal matter actually permeates the air. She’s not quite as emotionally bottomed-out as Tom Hanks’ character was when he agreed to leap into a fiery volcano in Joe Versus the Volcano (1990), but she’s close.

Whiskey Tango Foxtrot is based on print journalist Kim Barker’s 400-page The Taliban Shuffle: Strange Days in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Screenwriter Robert Carlock, an Emmy winner for his work on NBC’s 30 Rock, which also starred Fey, focuses on the author’s sometimes horrifying adventures in war-ravaged Afghanistan.

Baker, asked point blank by fellow war correspondent Tanya Vanderpoel (Margot Robbie of Focus and The Wolf of Wall Street) if she can borrow Baker’s video crew for sex, is tossed first into the Fun House, a sex, booze and caustic comic dormitory of sorts for war reporters, then the war itself. Fitting in as a seasoned journalist is out of the question at first. She marches off to war with a bright orange backpack and fatigues that still have a store label on the pants leg.

But a funny thing happens once Whiskey Tango Foxtrot gets past all the slightly irritating stabs at dark war comedy. A beautiful drama emerges. Fey, as so many comedians are, turns out to be a superb dramatic actor. She plants her feet solidly in this conflicted character who becomes a seasoned war reporter in a hurry and may just become a little too intoxicated by the rush of real explosive danger.

In fact, this is a film overflowing with funny folks who are also gifted dramatic actors. Billy Bob Thornton, who played (and will play again next Christmas) the title character in Bad Santa, is outstanding here as Marine Col. Walter Hollanek, a leader with a constant 2,000-yard stare and a devotion to his men and duty.

Even though this film was shot in New Mexico, it captures the filth, the poverty, the desperation and the conflict of the Middle East extremely well. One of the things it does best is reveal Baker’s view of what she witnessed there as a journalist embedded in the chaos.

Extremely gifted actor Alfred Molina (Love is Strange) is so immersed in his character of budding government official Ali Massoud Sadiq that he’s almost impossible to recognize. Up-and-comer Christopher Abbott (A Most Violent Year) might just find that his performance as Fahim Ahmadzai, Baker’s fixer (interview arranger) is a catapult to stardom.

Martin Freeman (Bilbo Baggins in The Hobbit series), as flirty, quick-witted photographer Iain MacKelpie, and Fey create some real screen magic as two lost souls flailing about trying to find some direction in their lives amid the madness of war.

Despite the fact that the filmmakers even make a feeble inside joke with the first letters of the military lingo title, Whiskey Tango Foxtrot (You get it, right?), this film excels as what it is; an extremely well-acted drama about flawed humans fighting to keep even a loose grip on humanity.


MPAA rating: R (pervasive language, some sexual content, drug use and violent war images)
111 minutes
Jalapeño rating: 3½ (out of 4)


How come 'The Judge'?

The judge's son (Robert Downey Jr.) draws up a contract to defend his estranged father (Robert Duvall). (Warner Bros.)

Judge, if I may approach the bench, who directed this cliché-filled misuse of two of our finest living dramatic actors?

Let me amend that, Your Honor.  Much of the blame must go to the screenwriters.  Oops, check that.  It seems that you, David Dobkin, co-authored the original story as well.  Well, guilty as charged, then.

The Judge, which hangs around for well over two drawn-out hours, is a hard-hitting father and son courtroom melodrama that plays out in small-town Indiana.  If it wasn't for Academy Award winner Robert Duvall and two-time Oscar nominee Robert Downey Jr., this carnival of a courtroom drama would be thrown out of cinematic court the first time highly unlikely circumstances keep the plot chugging along to its inevitable, contrived conclusion.

That's the rub for critics and movie fans, though. The Judge pairs Duvall and Downey as an estranged small town judge on the brink of severe human frailty and the son who only interrupts his pending bitter divorce and his successful Chicago law practice of getting rich crooks off the hook because there's been a death in the family.

Once back in his old tiny Indiana burg, Downey's Hank Palmer clashes violently with the old man, Duvall's Judge Joseph Palmer, bumps into his old high school girlfriend "Sam" (Vera Farmiga) and steps in to defend his reluctant father when he's linked to a hit-and-run incident.

To be honest, Duvall and Downey together were all I needed to pay retail and stand in line.  Once there, though, I felt a little sorry for both tremendous actors who had to wade through one plot cliché after another to get to the money shots:  Duvall at 83 and Downey, who almost threw his acting gift down the drain through drug abuse, in fine form and duking it out verbally with the precise timing and nuance few other actors can bring.

Director Dobkin (Wedding Crashers) co-wrote the original story that became the flawed, almost laughable at times screenplay by Nick Schenk (Gran Torino) and Bill Dubuque (a first-timer).  Dobkin insults his audience and his actors repeatedly by asking everyone to suspend their disbelief to impossible limits.

What must Downey have thought when he read in the script that when he falls off his bicycle on the highway that the first driver by would be his old high school squeeze "Sam"?  Actually, it's testament to his will to stay in character that Downey (and Farmiga, who was so terrific opposite George Clooney in Up in the Air) got through the scene without breaking character and laughing hysterically.

This kind of silliness happens at all-too-regular intervals for, I suppose, comic relief in a movie crying out to play it straight and edgy as a taut drama about a father and son fighting through deep wounds to reconnect.

I can't even imagine Gregory Peck having to succumb to cliched bits of comic relief to portray deeply conflicted small town lawyer Atticus Finch. 

Of course The Judge is by no means a drama even remotely resembling the greatness of To Kill a Mockingbird or other memorable courtroom classics.

Occasionally, great acting trumps sloppy film-making, though.  This is one of those cases.

If you're a fan of Duvall (Tender Mercies, The Godfather) and/or Downey (Chaplin, Zodiac), The Judge is worth it just to see two great actors clash like verbal titans able to elevate even trite dialogue to the level of an art form.

MPAA rating:  R (for language including some sexual references)

141 minutes

Jalapeño rating:  2½ (out of 4)


Thornton's 'Car' gets flat, tired

Billy Bob Thornton, left, and Kevin Bacon as conflicted brothers. (Anchor Bay Films)
Leave it to Billy Bob Thornton, perhaps the quirkiest of the quirky when it comes to actors and filmmakers, to assemble a notable group of A-list or former A-list actors to slog through an idea that Thornton says was in his head “for quite some time.” 

Rational reasoning, and, I’m guessing, a good number of movie studio decision makers would vote to leave this idea of a family patriarch obsessed with visiting gruesome car crashes on the highway outside of a small town in Thornton’s head.

Not Billy Bob, though.  After all, this is the guy who has portrayed everything from a fiddle-playing Davy Crockett (The Alamo) to implement-wielding, lovable killer Karl Childers (Sling Blade).

There’s nothing wrong with bringing odd or even severely flawed characters to the screen.  The problem with Jayne Mansfield’s Car, co-written by Thornton and former collaborator Tom Epperson (One False Move), co-starring Thornton and directed by Thornton, is that the paper-thin plot stalls in neutral much of the time.

Set in small-town Alabama in 1969 while this country’s hippie movement embraced free love at the same time the USA was divided over the Vietnam War, Jayne Mansfield’s Car spins its creative wheels trying to say something important about families torn apart emotionally yet somehow still bonded together, about fathers and sons and, oddly enough, about the fatal car crash that cut short the life of movie star Jayne Mansfield in 1967.

Thornton’s cast list is impressive.   Oscar winner Robert Duvall, who played Thornton’s conflicted father in Sling Blade, is back as Thornton’s tight-lipped, conflicted dad again here.  Although Thornton, Kevin Bacon and Robert Patrick portray play middle-aged siblings all going a little middle-age crazy, this family dynamic is about as far removed from the old TV sitcom “My Three Sons” as one can imagine.

Bacon takes on the role of Carroll, the aged hippie of the family, and looks more than a little silly in long hair leading a lethargic small-town Vietnam War protest parade.  Patrick, probably forever typecast as robot T-1000 in Terminator 2:  Judgment Day, is Jimbo, tarnished by both his brothers’ reps as World War II heroes.   Skip (Thornton), a pilot in the WWII, bears scars – emotional and otherwise – that have left him stuck in child mode in many ways.

Jayne Mansfield’s Car suffers no lack of grist for the dramatic mill.  And that’s where Thornton and Epperson eventually begin to build at least flickers of decent dramatic fire.  Papa Duvall’s ex, who long ago ran off to England and never returned, has died.  Her widower (John Hurt) and family have accompanied the body back to Alabama for burial.

As Duvall and Hurt, two formidable actors, spar verbally with very little to say to each other, the other members of this oddball household engage in various degrees of flirtation and coupling, dope smoking and generational bonding.

Don’t expect anything as gripping as Sling Blade.  For me, though, Thornton is one of those filmmakers who pushes the envelope fearlessly.    And he has assembled some really good actors and actresses around him.  It’s just that this project lacks the emotional punch – the Thornton kick in the gut, if you will – of some of his earlier work.

As offbeat as Jayne Mansfield’s Car is onscreen, it is almost as odd off.  Thornton’s semi-failed experiment in hard-hitting family melodrama just opened in a few movie houses on Sept. 13 (appropriately enough, Friday the 13th).

Odder still, Jayne Mansfield’s Car parallel parked in several cable and satellite systems’ On Demand queues two weeks prior to the movie-house release.

That’s where you can find it; lurking and bizarrely interesting, like accident victims on the highway just outside the city limits.


MPAA rating:  R (profanity, sexual content, nudity, drug use, bloody images)

Running time:  122 minutes

Jalapeño rating:  2 (out of 4)


The Russians are coming!

Routine in some aspects, the gritty war-drama "5 Days of War" stands out as an example of the positive power of real-simulated action over computer-generated effects.

If you're anything like me, you'll want to keep your head down as bullets fly in this dramatic recreation of the brief, but bloody David vs. Goliath five-day conflict between Russia and the Georgian Republic in 2008.

Director Renny Harlin, once known for mainstream thrillers like "Die Hard 2:  Die Harder" and "Cliffhanger," hits the cinematic war zone with the full cooperation of the Georgia military and citizens.

That means when you see hundreds, perhaps thousands of attack-ravaged refugees fleeing their homes ahead of the Russian tanks, you are really seeing live humans instead of five or six folks multiplied by computer into the masses.

British actor Rupert Friend ("The Young Victoria") is out front as Thomas Anders, an American TV correspondent.  Along with fellow journalists Sebastian Ganz (British actor Richard Coyle of "Coupling"), The Dutchman (Val Kilmer) and Zoe (German actress Antje Traue), they treat war as nightly drinking binges with dangerous duty during daylight hours.

"5 Days of War" maintains its "Black Hawk Down" desperate feel throughout, as Anders repeatedly steps into active combat zones to get the story and, in this case, the girl; a schoolteacher named Tatia (Emmanuelle Chriqui of "You Don't Mess with the Zohan" and "Entourage" on HBO) cut off from her family during a bombing raid.

Harlin, while quite adept at using powerful images and sound, is not quite equal to Ridley Scott ("Black Hawk Down" director) when it comes to keeping it real and believable.

As powerful as the war scenes are, drama becomes melodrama at times.

Still, for those who enjoy war dramas that push them to the edge of their seats with heavy artillery and tank fire, "5 Days of War" keeps the action blasting throughout.

An added plus is Andy Garcia as Georgia President Mikheil Saakashvili and Harlin's determination to make a modern-day war picture the old-fashioned way with real actors and effects.


Life is like a box of just being there

I never knew Forrest Gump had a country cousin until I saw "Our Idiot Brother."

Actually, Paul Rudd's Ned isn't really a simpleton or savant, as Tom Hank's Forrest was.  Ned is just a seriously laid-back guy who chooses to go through life telling the unfiltered truth, trusting strangers and constantly getting chastised -- or jailed -- for his simple approach to life.

In other words, it looks like Ned, who lands in the slammer in this raunchy comedy's opening sequence for being talked into selling pot to a uniformed policeman, has little or no chance in the cold, hard, "me-first" real world.

Life isn't like a box of chocolates for Ned, it's a constant swift kick below the belt.

But Ned, superbly downplayed by Paul Rudd behind a bushel of hair and beard, only wants to reunite with his dog, Willie Nelson.  Yes, a dog named Willie Nelson.  

Directed by Jesse Peretz, who guided Rudd through "The Ex" and "The Chateau," "Our Idiot Brother" is the thinking person's raunchy, low-brow comic romp.  Ned sells dope and acts like one at times.  But he also wanders into domestic dilemmas involving his three sisters (played with spunk by Elizabeth Banks, Zooey Deschanel and Emily Mortimer).

Like the late Peter Seller's Chance Gardner in the now-vintage comic-drama gem "Being There" (1979), Ned sometimes soothes troubled waters by simply showing up and shutting up.

Rudd, who has the uncanny ability to look like a straight man even when his character is way off into Goofville, turns in a subtle, understated performance that's a refreshing diversion from what we usually see in today's over-the-top raunchy comedies.

"Our Idiot Brother" turns out to be a well-acted exercise in cinematic ensemble folly that makes for an enjoyable evening of frenzied vs. cool reacting movie-going.

Screenwriters Evgenia Peretz, a "Vanity Fair" contributing editor who's the director's sister, and her husband David Schisgall, write themselves into a corner bubbling over with over silliness a couple of times, however.

Why else would they dub the Golden Retriever Ned is constantly trying to retrieve "Willie Nelson"?

You'll just have to wait until the final scene to answer that one.


Fangs for the memories

The 3-Ds in "Fright Night" stand for death, dumb and dufuses.

Yet the remake of the 1985 comic-horror-thriller about the vampire next door slithers coldly and with a sick sense of purpose; like a snake on the prowl after dark.

Actually, Jerry (Colin Farrell), the handsome mysterious stranger who has just moved into a house in the Las Vegas 'burbs, is more like a shark.

Charley, the kid next door, finally snaps that Jerry (Yes, Jerry the vampire) must be a blood-sucker when his classmates, including former best bud Ed (talented Christopher Mintz-Plasse), fail to show up for school.

Normally, I am not in favor of remakes.  They are, however, here to stay.

At least the "Fright Night" re-do is in very good hands, even if it's a little cheesy-goofy.  Director Craig Gillespie ("Mr. Woodcock"), who guided Ryan Gosling through an extremely difficult performance in the outstanding dark comic-drama "Lars and the Real Girl," makes good use of his actors, his script and the gimmicky 3-D effects.

Gillespie wisely waits, waits, waits until just the right couple of moments to spring -- make that fling -- images into the audience.

Anton Yelchin ("Star Trek," Mel Gibson's son in "The Beaver") finds enough nuance in Charley to keep his startled character real enough.   

Farrell, on screen recently in "Horrible Bosses," was excellent in the hit-man comic-drama "In Bruges" (2008), a superb thriller almost no one saw.  Here he's a laid back vampire.  Laid back, that is, until night falls, hunger takes over and the fangs come out.

The real star here, though, is Scot actor David Tennant (the BBC series "Dr. Who").  Tennant, a relative fresh face in this country, acts circles around his castmates as Peter Vincent, a blow-hard "vampire killer" on stage on the Vegas strip who is drawn into the real fright fight.

The late Roddy McDowall, who played a TV "Fright Night" host in the original, would be proud, and perhaps a little jealous of this fast-paced remake with real bite.


Booty calls with entanglement pitfalls

Kudos to "Friends With Benefits" director Will Gluck for daring to sprinkle some real-life drama into a silly little romantic-comedy that flashes some skin and lesser parts romance and comedy.

Justin Timberlake and Mila Kunis, two rising stars of the Yeah, Us Generation, do all they can with a premise doomed from the beginning:  Sex without emotion or entanglements.

Let's face it, folks.  The booty call, no commitment relationship already had its chance on the big screen.
Earlier this year Oscar winner Natalie Portman ("Black Swan") and Ashton Kutcher (Charlie Sheen's soon-to-be replacement on TV's "Two and a Half Men") gave it a goofy go in "No Strings Attached."

The idea failed, although the movie had some merit as a romantic-comedy.

Even good actors like Timberlake ("The Social Network") and Kunis ("Black Swan") can't make "Friends with Benefits" hook an audience as entertainment, however.  The problem is that director Gluck's first effort since last year's semi-entertaining "Easy A" attempts to stuff some serious life lessons, including but not limited to the sex without commitment thingy, into a format that's traditional romantic-comedy.

Dylan (Timberlake) plays a hotshot Web site graphic designer in L.A. who's recruited by Jamie (Kunis), a get-it-done corporate headhunter.  She lures him to New York for an interview at GQ magazine.

Both are on the rebound from recent breakups, which are inter cut nicely by Gluck to open the film.

Like Portman and Kutcher in "No Strings Attached," Dylan and Jamie take the plunge into a grand experiment doomed to failure:  vigorous sex with none of the cuddling, or "Call me" or whining about a sex partner who might encounter someone else away from the not-so-sacred pact.

Jamie, claiming to be a "good girl," makes Dylan swear on a Bible that neither partner will violate the special bond.  The Bible, however, is a Bible app on an ipad.

Welcome to The Good Book in the New Digital Age, movie-goers.

Jamie's Mom (Patricia Clarkson) wanders off in the direction of every man she sniffs.  Dylan, on the other hand, is sort of hiding the fact that his dad (superbly played by Oscar nominee Richard Jenkins of "The Visitor") has some serious, heartbreaking health issues.

I like the fact that "Friends With Benefits" attempts to fry some real life stumbling blocks in the same pan as the over-easy romance and peek-a-boo frolics under the sheets.  For those who seek out R-rated movies for such things, there's more raunchy sex talk than exposed skin, except for a showcase of Timberlake's bare Southern extremities.

"Friends With Benefits" is a tough call for a critic.  If modern, graphic pillow talk is all you require in a romantic-comedy, it's a semi-rewarding hour and a half or so in a movie house.

Otherwise, some very good veteran actors (Jenkins, Clarkson) and young rising stars (Timberlake, Kunis) might just appear to be hanging around on the screen for a very long time.


'Bad Teacher' sent to comic detention

A couple of weeks ago, this looked like a blossoming cinematic summer of lowbrow, raunchy girl power.

Well, "Bridesmaids" did its part with bottom-feeder bodily malfunction laughs the like of which haven't been seen since Jeff Daniels' outrageous guest bathroom experience in "Dumb & Dumber" way back in the prehistoric comic ages of 1994.

Unfortunately, "Bad Teacher" can't carry the Girls Can Be Just As Comically Nasty As Boys torch forward.

Cameron Diaz's jilted fiancée/teacher who, according to "Bad Teacher's" catchphrase, doesn't give an F might just find that some movie critics who rate flicks from A to F do.

Showing flickers of creativity in early scenes, when awful high school teacher Elizabeth Halsey (Diaz) shows her students movies about teachers teaching instead of bothering to do it herself, "Bad Teacher" quickly becomes a mirrored image of the main character's goal in life:  a boob job.

Like "Bridesmaids" and "The Hangover Part II," "Bad Teacher" provides a steady barrage of below-the-belt humor, drugs and sex.  The only thing missing here most of the time is laugh-provoking gags.

Diaz ("Green Hornet," "Knight and Day") snarls her way on cue through a limp script by writing partners Gene Stupnitsky and Lee Eisenberg ("Year One").  There's even the added curiosity of Justin Timberlake, Diaz's former significant other, co-starring as Russell, a substitute teacher she has her eye on.

That fizzles as well.  Timberlake, an excellent actor, really, gets lost behind a pair of plastic-rimmed glasses and a milquetoast character.  The aw shucks love interest is brought to the screen in an aw shucks, who cares? manner by Jason Segel, who fails to connect with Diaz or his character.

Only Lucy Punch (Darla in "Dinner for Schmucks") dives head first into her character, a nutty goody-two-shoes teacher named Amy Squirrel.

Director Jake Kasdan ("Walk Hard:  The Dewey Cox Story") makes a primal filmmaking mistake in this one.  Raunchy material is fine as long as it's in tandem with humor.  There are at least 10 misses to every joke that scores in this one.  

Diaz should know that.  She was hilarious sporting that, uh, special hair gel as the title character in "There's Something About Mary" in 1998.

One word stands out in "Bad Teacher." And it ain't "Teacher."


Second 'Hangover' more like a leftover

OK, "The Hangover Part II" is "Bridesmaids" for men.

How's that for equality?

What the above statement means is that men may have gotten the jump on women (no pun intended; maybe a little) when it comes to bottom-feeder raunchy comedy.  But women, as displayed recently in "Bridesmaids," are just as capable as men when it comes to comic carnal knowledge on the Neanderthal level.

A contrived follow-up to the huge box office success of "The Hangover" in 2009, "Hangover Part II" takes its vocal rancor, blatant nudity and dumb guys buzzard luck not only to Thailand, but also to the very bottom of soft-porn shock raunch.

And this time director Todd Phillips ("Old School," "Road Trip"), who can be booked on charges of conspiring against decency by directing the first "Hangover," is packing a monkey.

Not just any monkey, either.  This capuchin monkey smokes cigarettes, peddles dope, snorts a little himself and engages in monkey-on-monk simulated sex.

Too tough for you?

Then you'll definitely want to move on down the hall of the multiplex to something a little more tame, like the third sequel of "Pirates of the Caribbean."A quick note, though.  There's a nasty, snarling monkey in that one, too.

The key cast members of the first "Hangover" all return.  That includes Bradley Cooper as Phil, the leader of the Wolfpack and Ed Helms ("The Office" on TV) as Stu, who lost a tooth the first time around and is the groom-to-be (seriously messed-up) this time.

Also, Zach Galifianakis returns as Alan, the self-proclaimed stay-at-home son, and Ken Jeong gets to get naked and screeches his lines again as Mr. Chow, an international man of crime.

Exceptional actor Paul Giamatti ("Sideways"), who appears to have forgotten to go on his pre-shooting diet and looks uncomfortably pudgy, joins the cast briefly as a businessman who just happens to be in the crime business.

In case you haven't already guessed, "Hangover Part II" travels the same path of lowest brow humor possible.  Just like the first, but then some.  Instead of misplacing the groom this time, a night of Bangkok debauchery leads to a morning where Stu's soon-to-be brother-in-law Teddy, a 16-year-old played by newcomer Mason Lee (director Ang Lee's son), is missing.

At least most of him is missing.  One of Teddy's severed body digits is discovered cooling in an ice bucket, which sets this less-effective misadventure in motion.

"The Hangover Part II," like its precursor, reveals all in a groan-inducing montage of gross-out photos during the final credits.

The good news is that no 3-D glasses are required for this one.  A barf bag might come in handy, though.