‘Hangover Part II’: The Reviews Are In!

'The stock dismissal 'more of the same' has rarely been more accurately applied to a sequel,' one reviewer writes.

By this point, if anyone is still doubting whether “The Hangover Part II” will be a massive worldwide hit, Wednesday’s midnight screenings should quiet skeptics. Warner Bros. announced that the follow-up to 2009′s record-smashing hit roped in $10.4 million in those early showings, setting a new midnight opening record for an R-rated film on its way to what many are predicting will become a $125 million opening over the five-day holiday weekend.

All this box-office talk gets even more impressive when you note reviews for the film have been decidedly mixed. While the first “Hangover” won over both critics and moviegoers, the sequel is currently languishing at just a 31 percent approval at the Rotten Tomatoes review aggregator. Critics have pointed out how the second film follows the plot points of the original far too closely. They’ve also argued that the sequel simply isn’t as funny as the first. Other reviews, however, are still getting a kick out of watching the Wolf Pack flail and fail all over again, similarities are not. Read on for a deep dive into the “Hangover Part II” reviews:

The Story
” ‘The Hangover Part II’ opts for the most popular cure: the hair of the dog that bit it. In other words, the sequel is almost identical to the first ‘Hangover.’ This time, dweeby Stu (Ed Helms), slick Phil (Bradley Cooper) and attention sponge Alan (Zach Galifianakis) are at a wedding (Stu’s) in Thailand, instead of Las Vegas, but the rest is pretty much the same. The movie starts with the three waking up after a night of debauchery, with one of their pals missing, with a threatening crook on their tails and with vague knowledge of peccadilloes both sexual and chemical. Oh, and Mike Tyson is tangentially involved (Stu has a facial tattoo just like the former champ’s). They spend the rest of the movie trying to make it to the wedding while piecing together clues to what happened the previous night and searching desperately for their missing bud.” — Chris Hewitt, St. Paul Pioneer Press

The Laughs
“[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. As the guys begin their desperate search for a missing bank account number (they have to give it to a drug lord or he’ll kill them), it’s no surprise to discover that they went to a Bangkok strip bar. And when we learn what happened in that club to Stu — who hasn’t shaken his tendency to fall drunkenly head over heels in love with hookers — you may see the twist coming, but you won’t foresee the casual outrageousness of the dialogue, the kind that keeps on giving. Yet that sort of choke-on-your-popcorn laugh is more the exception than the rule.” — Owen Gleiberman, Entertainment Weekly

The Performances
“Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms, and Zach Galifianakis slide into their roles as if they didn’t go on to play other characters in the interim, although at least two of the three (Helms being the exception) have seen significant career upticks. Phil is the good-looking leader, Stu is the worry-wart nerd, and Alan is quite possibly the most loathsome individual to have crawled out from under a rock. He’s not a loveable loser; he’s a detestable loser — and that’s where a lot of the comedy comes from. Galifianakis stole the show in ‘The Hangover,’ and he steals it here. Refreshingly, [director Todd] Phillips does not feel the need to give Alan a heroic moment of redemption.” — James Berardinelli, ReelViews

The Comparison
“The stock dismissal ‘more of the same’ has rarely been more accurately applied to a sequel than to ‘The Hangover Part II,’ which ranks as little more than a faded copy of its predecessor superimposed on a more brightly colored background. One can understand director Todd Phillips’ initial reluctance to tinker with a formula that made the 2009 romp the highest-grossing R-rated comedy ever, but the rote professionalism on display verges on cynicism, and despite some occasional sparks, this ranks as a considerable disappointment. Box office should be huge all the same.” — Andrew Barker, Variety

The Final Word
That comfortable air of familiarity provided by the returning characters also extends to many of the original’s more inspired bits — but to less potent effect. Still, even a milder ‘Hangover’ manages to deliver more laughs than most of the competition. … In addition to that hard-to-replicate element of surprise, also in short supply here is the manic energy that made the original such a delightfully unpredictable ride. The reunited cast looks to have been up for a greater challenge, especially gonzo Galifianakis, who emerged as the breakout star of the first ‘Hangover.’ ” — Michael Rechtshaffen, The Hollywood Reporter

Check out everything we’ve got on “The Hangover Part II.”

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