The Hangover Part II Review Round-Up: Part II, The Raunchening

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The reviews for The Hangover Part II are out, and boy, are they mixed. Apparently Hangover Part II stays pretty true to the original plot, and depending on who you ask, that’s either its charm or its downfall. Says Entertainment Weekly’s Owen Gleiberman, “Here, as in The Hangover, the laughs aren’t just staged, they’re superlatively engineered — even if that means, at moments, that they feel like they’re falling into formatted slots. When they don’t, the movie can be flat-out hilarious.” The New York Times’ Manohla Dargis praises Zach Galifianakis as “a naturally funny screen presence, and he gives Alan a strong current of menace, turning him into a combustible teddy bear whose naïveté ignites all the trouble and serves as its convenient excuse. A walking, toddling id, the guy can’t help it,” though as The Hollywood Reporter’s Michael Rechtshaffen notes, “this time around a chunk of his thunder has been stolen by Ken Jeong, back as jive-talking Asian gangsta Mr. Chow.”

Of course, using the exact same template can suck the fun out of what would otherwise be hysterical jokes. Said Rechtshaffen, “Although the ensuing Bangkok adventure is not without its shocking, laugh-out-loud moments, too much of Part II seems content to trot out variations on the earlier bits, like your joke-cracking uncle who believes that any punch line that gets a chuckle the first time bears repeating — over and over again.”

Meanwhile, plenty of reviewers though that the amped up filth just went way, way too far to be funny. Wrote Roger Ebert, “The Hangover Part II plays like a challenge to the audience’s capacity for raunchiness….As if making sure no one was not offended, it has a montage of still photos over the closing titles that include one cruel shot that director Todd Phillips should never, ever have used,” an image which the critic describes as “a desecration of one of the two most famous photos to come out of the Vietnam War.” Yikes. Time’s Mary Pols calls some of the animal sex jokes “perverted and cruel” (and you people already know how I feel about monkeys and wieners) but that the relationship between the central cast lifts the sequel beyond your average primate-and-donkey show: “The chemistry this trio has is special; the premise of the sequel seems worn, but the way they work against and with each other is what provides the pleasure. Everyone else in the cast is essentially irrelevant, with the exception of Jeong. His comic intonations—a little effeminate, heavily sing song, completely politically incorrect—are so purely funny no one will much care that it makes no sense for Mr. Chow to be in Thailand.” Of course, there are some, like The Village Voice’s Eric Hynes, who see only a cash grab in such a similar sequel, claiming “It’s hard to imagine a more calculating, creatively bankrupt piece of real estate than The Hangover Part II,” calling it “Todd Phillips’ rote, dispiriting replica of his own surprise smash hit.”