The Hangover Part II is poised to dominate the holiday weekend box office, but the film has not been well-received by film critics, who were blindsided by humor the Daily Telegraph's Marc Lee called "darker and harsher" than anything in the original.
- The Atlantic's Christopher Orr is fascinated with the "underlying ferocity, even cruelty, to the proceedings" that turned off so many critics. Maybe it would help to look at these movies as mysteries?"Indeed," he writes, "the comedy is not just black but noir--which is apt, given the formula to which Phillips has adhered so rigidly. The missing person, the seamy urban setting, the gradual accretion of clues: The Hangover films are, essentially, hard-boiled crime stories spun into comic depravity, heirs as surely to Hammett, Chandler, and Cain as they are to Apatow and the Farellys."If Part II doesn't attain greatness, it's because "the plotting is looser" and "the the gags and performances--Galifianakis's in particular--have grown broader."
- "If you seriously need any more evidence that the raunchy bromance comedy genre has become a played-out shell of its former self, huffing the fumes of last night's stale beer (mixed with other unidentifiable fluids) in a back alley at dawn," snarls Salon's Andrew O'Hehir, "the great burst of sour flatulence that is this overcooked sequel should provide it." The problem isn't just that it's a "dumb, ugly and, most of all, painfully unfunny movie," says O'Hehir. It's also a conflicted one, never able to resolve "competing touristic impulses: Bangkok as a pervy, nasty sex-trade destination and the mysterious East as the home of a superior, contemplative spirituality. It's like Eat, Pray, Love only with hot ladyboys to turn you gay and a cigarette-smoking monkey to steal your heart.."
- At Slate, Dana Stevens takes particular issue with the film's "big taboo-breaking set piece (every summer comedy is required to have one now, by order of the Ministry of Tastelessness)," in which the leads meet a "'ladyboy' sex worker" one of them may have had sex with. "The degree of horror displayed by the men when s/he reveals a set of unambiguously male genitalia is more than a little off-putting," writes Stevens. "Our heroes have, at this point, faced with equanimity the prospect that a teenage boy may be hurt and irretrievably lost in the squalor of the Bangkok underworld. Is the fact that one of them may or may not have had consensual gay sex really the worst possible thing they can imagine?" The ends with a montage of rediscovered snapshots just like the original, a "shameless lift" that Stevens doesn't object to. "That minute and a half of still photos packs in more dense, economical laughs than all the laborious gross-outs and chase sequences that came before," she writes.
- "What was fresh and surprising in Las Vegas turns rancid and predictable in Bangkok," says Joe Morgenstern of the Wall Street Journal. Other than Ed Helms, whose sweet charm stays intact, the rest cast is drastically less appealing this time around. Writes Morgenstern: "Bradley Cooper's formerly engaging Phil has grown vulgar and unpleasant, Zach Galifianakis's Alan dispenses mirthless insults at every opportunity, and Ken Jeong's effeminate gangster, Mr. Chow, is given much more screen time than before with even less justification."