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Critical Mass: 'The Hangover Part II' gives the critics a headache

May 27, 2011 |  4:14 pm

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The first "Hangover" was a surprise smash, an R-rated comedy that raked in more than $277 million at the domestic box office. So, a sequel was inevitable. And judging from the first day's box office, people are awaiting it with open arms.

But is it any good? That's another story.

Most are like Times critic Betsy Sharkey, accusing the film of existing purely as a crass cash-grab without any good comedy to justify itself. She writes, "Me, I'm left with morning-after regrets. Lost is the fresh, perverse, painfully politically incorrect R-rated pleasure that came when 'The Hangover' ate up the summer of 2009."

Leonard Maltin disliked the film as well, but he's been around too long to exert much effort bashing it. This is one of those critic-proof movies. "In a more perfect world, customers who feel burned by second- and third-rate sequels would be wary the next time a number 2, 3, or 4 came to their neighborhood multiplex. But you know what Barnum said...."

Manohla Dargis earns her New York Times paycheck by going a little "Da Vinci Code" on the film: "If you superimposed a diagram that mapped out all the narrative beats, characters and jokes in 'The Hangover Part II' over one for 'The Hangover,' the two would align almost perfectly."

Roger Ebert's two-star review gives the film credit for having a few laughs (mostly because of Zach Galifianakis), but Ebert takes offense at one photograph, seen during the film's closing credits. Like the first one, "The Hangover Part II" saves the final revelations of the boys' wild night out for a montage at the end. "It's not that I was shocked. This is a raunch fest, yes, but not an offense against humanity (except for that photo, which is a desecration of one of the two most famous photos to come out of the Vietnam War). The movie has its share of laughs."

"The Hangover Part II" does have its defenders, and not just in the quote machines and junketeers that you'd normally expect to like the film. Critic Christopher Orr, at that bastion of highbrow reportage and opinion the Atlantic, is a fan. He writes, "Despite its slavish fidelity to the structure of its predecessor, Phillips's sequel manages to take each plot twist and twist it further.... It's a testament to the strength of that model, though, that despite its derivative nature and other shortcomings, 'The Hangover Part II' is brutally funny. Again."

Critic Ben Mankiewicz, host from another bastion, this time of "good cinema," Turner Classic Movies, is also a fan. He defends the movie in his review on Huffington Post, acknowledging its critical drubbing while pointing out the bright spots that actually make the film work (in his opinion). "As for the rest of the movie, eh, not so much, but hardly a disaster. Think of it as a decent high school football player who suffers from having an older brother who was all-state two years earlier."

Did you see "The Hangover Part II"? Did you find it to be a wild night out or reason for next-day regrets?

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--Patrick Kevin Day

Photo: Bradley Cooper stars in "The Hangover Part II." Credit: Warner Bros.

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