PETA slams Hangover III for simulated animal cruelty: reactionary or deserved?

The Hangover movies kind of run together in a blur in my head, but I saw both of them and I remember animals figuring prominently in each. There was that capuchin monkey in Hangover II (she has her own wiki page, did you know?) and there were chickens and a tiger in the first movie. Well it turns out there’s a damn giraffe in this one, and this is a spoiler warning, but it’s in trailer so I don’t feel any guilt about revealing it – the giraffe gets beheaded by a thruway overpass. Of course PETA is all up in arms over this, even though the giraffe beheading was all computer generated. A real giraffe was brought in for some scenes, and this was enough to draw PETA’s ire, even though they’re not doing anything to fix the issue of animals on film except complaining about it – constantly and loudly. Also, it’s worth noting that PETA timed this press release to coincide with the film’s release date, which is Friday. They could have bitched about it when we first saw the trailer with the decapitated giraffe, but no.

A decapitated giraffe. A smothered rooster. Dead dogs.

These are just a few of the incidents milked for laughs by Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms, Ken Jeong and Zach Galifianakis in the upcoming Hangover 3, and a rep for PETA tells that it’s simply unacceptable.

“We regret that unlike most Hollywood directors, [Hangover 3 director] Todd Philips remains insensitive to what animals are put through to make a film, and that despite evidence given to him about the abuse and stress inherent in training wild animals such as giraffes, monkeys and tigers, he is still including them in his movies,” a rep for PETA told

Although the scene featured in the trailer of a giraffe being decapitated alongside Zach was computer-generated, PETA claims that they have knowledge a giraffe was used in a studio.

“Phillips filmed a real giraffe in the studio to create the character,” the rep says, “an entirely unnecessary stressor for the giraffe, given what is now possible with CGI.”

“Giraffes are extremely delicate creatures who are easily upset and become nervous in surroundings that are unfamiliar and therefore frightening to them,” the rep explained.

I checked the website for the Humane Society film and TV oversight board, No Animals Were Harmed, because they actually monitor films for animal treatment instead of just complaining after the fact. They didn’t supervise the animal scenes in Hangover II at all “due to the fact that it was filmed internationally and the production did not establish a contract for our oversight.” They were on set during a single scene with the monkey that was shot in the US, but they concluded that the “scene did not appear in the theatrical release.” So I would bet something similar happened with Hangover III. They don’t have an entry for that film at all yet.

At least one reviewer on Rotten Tomatoes pointed out the sheer amount of animal cruelty in the film while roundly trashing it. The Movie Waffler writes that the film contains “a copious amount of racism, homophobia, and a disturbing, and puzzling, amount of animal cruelty.” He also points us to Bradley Cooper’s character’s line “He killed a giraffe, who gives a f*k?” Hangover III currently has a 48% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. That’s better than Hangover II, but it’s early yet. At least they don’t use the same lost weekend premise. (Or so I’ve heard.)

Oh and in case you’re wondering if there are going to be any more Hangover movies to follow, in a recent press junket Bradley Cooper, Zach Galifianakis and Ed Helms basically said “no.” Ed Helms said “it’s over… it feels like the right time to wrap it up.” Bradley concluded that “in our minds it’s over, and I think Warner brothers too.” All the promotional materials claim it’s the “finale” too, although that doesn’t mean much.

Here’s the trailer. There’s cockfighting at 1:30, and the giraffe is at 1:50.

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62 Responses to “PETA slams Hangover III for simulated animal cruelty: reactionary or deserved?”

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  1. I thought the first Hangover was a lot of fun, and a great pleasant surprise. The tiger was never ill-treated on film (and appeared to be a puppet/CGI for most of the movie scenes in the car), simply “kidnapped” and later returned to its home. The Hangover II felt very mean-spirited to me, what with the monkey (SPOILER) getting shot, smoking cigarettes, etc.

    The new trailer for Part III is even more upsetting. I didn’t find the giraffe and the highway overpass funny, and cockfighting isn’t funny to me either.

    I don’t get it… Maybe they think we need to be “shocked” in order to laugh? And animal cruelty is the final frontier?

  2. Dedrie says:

    It’s so funny to watch helpless animals die.. this is all they have for ‘refresh sequel’ entertainment?

  3. Remember The '80s says:

    Yeah, I’m not into any scenes depicting random violence on animals. Not funny. Plus it worries me that there enough cruel a@@holes in the world that would do copycat stunts they see in movies.

    • Ela says:

      +1. How and why is it even funny?

      • teehee says:

        +2 — that giraffe scene just screams “Looney Tunes” to me- its one thing when Wile. E. Coyote does it, but when a bunch of high paid actors working on a multi-million dollar hollywood budget do it, in CGI, and expect a theater full of ADULTS to laugh instead of jsut 5 year olds— I have to seriously question what counts for creative talent today…

    • spaniard says:

      Amen to that.I just can’t find animal cruelty funny.

    • FLORC says:

      You make a fair point on the copy cat part. Sadly, there are people that think it’s funny to hurt animals. This isn’t however the movies fault. Those people that repeat what they saw are to be held 100% accountable for their own actions. Nobody made them do it.

      I always find PETA extremely hypocritical when they put down tens of thousands of animals that are eligible for adoption each year. At their core they believe animals are better off dead than to live as a pet.

      This movie will be enjoyable. It’s meant to be enjoyed. If anyone takes any of this literally that’s their sick fault.
      End Rant

  4. teehee says:

    Milked for laughs? What I want to know is who’s laughing- not one thing about the trailer was even slightly amusing. I am a fan of Zach, but this ‘humor’ just seems weak and stupid.

    • Migdalia says:

      It’s only because he’s been doing the same thing for 4 movies now…The Hangovers and Due Date. I’m pretty sure he’s funny in another capacity I’ve seen his stand up. Melissa McCartney is another one who is stuck in a certain comedic box that’s tired.

  5. Sloane Wyatt says:

    I’m NOT seeing this movie! I make it a point to never see movies or read books where animals die or where there are scenes of animal cruelty.

    Gross, and in my opinion, the lowest of the low common denominator in so called entertainment today.

    • invaderzim says:

      What about old yeller? Where the red fern grows? Those animals died.

    • justme says:

      I’m a huge animal lover and have done rescue work for a decade now, I won’t watch movies that involve hunting or the beating of animals. I can watch humans die on screen without a problem but if I see someone aim a gun at an animal I will cringe and cover my eyes. Beating and shooting is animal abuse, and its very real. However, I have absolutely no problem with this scene in the hangover. It’s not real,they didn’t purposefuly decapatate the giraffe and this isnt an actual issue of people putting a giraffe in the back of a truck and cutting their heads off. Now if they were intentionally shooting animals for entertainment, which is a real issue, I would have a problem with it. But its a freaking joke, I think this is a situation where people are just being overly sensitive. I will be going to see this on Saturday and I’m super excited as I have loved both of the other ones. The cock fighting scene may be a different story depending on how its done because that is a very real issue. But if its done tastefully, as in not showing too much and not showing them being killed, that could help to raise awareness. I feel like they will most likely come across a scene like that and it will be shown in passing, not like the main characters are rounding them up and fighting them, but I could be wrong.

  6. Suzen says:

    OMG haha.. I cannot wait to see that!

    • V4Real says:

      I saw the preview for this movie and not once did I crack a smile. I actually like the first and second one.

      I’m no fan of PETA and they need to choose their battles; this is a senseless movie and it’s obvious no animals were harmed. I wonder why they didn’t go after Robert Downey Jr when he spit on the dog in Due Date. I literally laughed out loud at that scene and the scene were he punched the annoying kid.

  7. Jess says:

    When I saw the second film all I could think was “I bet a lot of douchebags are going to try to buy a monkey now”. Two words; Justin Beiber.

    I can deal with (faked, obviously) animal cruelty in films if it has a purpose. But in the Hangover films it’s just stupid visual gags that don’t need to be there. The whole franchise is pretty gross though. Remember when they tried to give Mel Gibson a comeback cameo before the dust had even begun to settle over the tapes of him verbally abusing his ex.

  8. doofus says:

    really liked the first one, the second one had some funny moments…but when I saw the giraffe-beheading in this trailer, that pretty much sealed it for me that I wasn’t going to see the third installment.

    giraffes are awesome, beautiful animals and I thought that bit was really over the top and in poor taste.

  9. Heather H says:

    When I saw the trailer with the giraffe, I said “nope, not watching” how is that funny? Maybe if it ducked it would be sort of funny, and I hoped they went that route when watching the trailer. If it gets decapitated? Um, no thanks.

  10. Lucinda says:

    I laughed my ass off at the trailer with the giraffe in that kind of “Oh my God I can’t believe I’m laughing at this because it’s so wrong” kind of way. Not once did I think a real giraffe was endangered. There isn’t any need these days anyway with CGI effects. Yes, the movies are crass and stupid and childish. That doesn’t mean they aren’t entertaining. Obviously someone is going to see them because they make a lot of money. I’m ashamed to admit I will be at the theater watching it because sometimes stupid stuff is funny.

  11. Jacqueline says:

    Where is PETA on Justin Beiber and poor Malley? I never hear anything about PETA beyond the obvious bitching in the press and print campaigns. Why are there never any stories about what they are actually doing/accomplishing? I mean, I’m sure they are – at least I hope they are, right?

  12. Merritt says:

    I’ve never seen these movies and have no desire to. They just look stupid to me.

    That said, I’m tired of PETA. PETA is such an awful organization, that doesn’t actually seem to do anything for animals. Whenever I hear about them it is typically related to some publicity stunt. They have pulled some of the most racist and sexist garbage. I don’t know why they are taken seriously.

  13. Lucretia says:

    I saw this apparent beheading in the trailer, and I couldn’t believe that they wouldn’t save the giraffe at the last minute; but apparently not. Even if it’s only CGI–even if no giraffe died–I don’t find this funny in the slightest, and it will keep me from going to the theater, or even watching it on HBO.

  14. DianeP says:

    Animal cruelty, even implied, is never funny. Looks like an incredibly stupid movie. I’m with PETA.

    • Lucinda says:

      I agree that animal cruelty isn’t funny. But cruelty implies intent. You choose to be harmful. That’s what makes it cruel. This clip is about the sheer stupidity of the character. Stupid can be funny.

      That said, I completely respect your right to not find it funny and to be offended. Humor is that way. A joke one person relates to and finds hysterical can be unfunny and even offensive to another. The experience we bring to the joke is just as big a factor as the joke itself.

      • Elle Kaye says:

        But people can be charged with animal cruelty who believe they are not being cruel at all. A person who hoards animals believes they are helping animals, when in fact they are doing the opposite. They are ill and need help.

  15. anneesezz says:

    Everyone has a right NOT to go see this movie. But the mere fact that PETA is against makes me somewhat for it. .

  16. Sabrine says:

    Poor defenceless animals with no say. At least PETA is a voice against this depiction of animals as throw away and disposable. It just gives people ideas. I would never watch an awful movie like this.

  17. Migdalia says:

    I went to the red carpet premiere on Monday and I was quite disturbed at how many illusions to animal violence there was. The giraffe is only one incident. Its almost like they were specifically trying to antagonize PETA. While there were a lot of funny moments its obvious that the movies have lost its charm since the original. The only “true” Hangover throwback is the scene after the end credits. I have no doubt that this will be the very last one.

  18. Nan209 says:

    I guess I’m just too much of a softy. I don’t find cruel humor funny. America’s Funniest Home Videos is my idea of a nightmare – b/c I can’t turn off the empathy and laugh at people getting hurt…forget it if it’s animals, even fake animals, getting hurt. The Giraffe was the absolute clincher that I’ll never clap eyes on this stinker. I think PETA probably is wasting it’s breath, there are a little of people who don’t think animal cruelty is funny…but I could be wrong. People have brand loyalty too.

  19. embertine says:

    Yeah, it pains me to agree with PETA but in this case they have a point. Not just because depicting animal cruelty (even fake cruelty) for laughs is a pretty disturbing trend to have in your movie series. But also because they are right about giraffes being very easily stressed and injured. I can’t see how shipping a giraffe into a studio even for fairly innocuous scenes could ever be a good thing for the animal.

  20. MisJes says:

    For goodness’ sake, it’s a CGI giraffe. How do you front such a huge uproar over a computerized effect? PETA is being completely ridiculous. But this is their MO, every time a movie comes out featuring an animal, they jump on it with all guns blazing (probably for the publicity that comes along with it). If a real giraffe was harmed on set, I could understand the upset. But not over a f*cking computer graphic.

    • Migdalia says:

      Animal cruelty and more specifically murder is a recurring theme in the movie. Plus one of their points are is if they could create the giraffe decapitation with cgi why cause the giraffe stress by shipping it to a bustling studio. Of course you need a model to create CGI, but why depict that to begin with for laughs. That’s the point.

      • MisJes says:

        As I haven’t yet seen the film I can’t comment on whether or not animal cruelty is a theme. Whilst it is true that giraffe’s can become easily stressed, it is important to remember that giraffe’s hired for film sets are not just dropped at the gate – there are many animal handlers, trainers, vets and co-coordinators that are responsible for the animals. These people are qualified professionals and I feel that they should be trusted to do their job. If the giraffe in question was showing signs of distress, or their well-being was seriously brought into question at all, action would have been taken. My point is that it is not as if there was no advocates available for the giraffe on set, and I am confident that it would have been properly cared for, given the standards of working with animals in the industry that must be met.

        As to why that scene was even part of the film, here is a snippet of an interview I just read with the director of The Hangover:

        “I find it funny to take something so precious and do something crazy with it in fiction…that’s because they’re such beautiful creatures and not because I don’t like animals.”

        Everyone has their own brand of humour and different kinds of comedy appeals to different people. Just because you may not laugh, doesn’t mean others won’t. For every person who hates this trilogy, I guarantee you will find another who thinks it’s amazing.

      • Lulu.T.O. says:

        MisJes, well said. I don’t have a problem with animals being used in films, as long as they are cared for.

      • MisJes says:

        @Lulu.T.0., thank you. It is difficult to voice an opinion that isn’t necessarily held (or understood for that matter) by others!

    • hadleyb says:

      So a CGI of a baby being killed is ok then? I find that disgusting as well.

      The problem is that even being “fake” and trying to make this funny stupid people will think it’s real, or try to make it real in real life and in turn actually hurt REAL animals. Get it now?

      • MisJes says:

        As I have stated above, I find it preposterous to rampage over a special effect, when it is known that no actual person or being was harmed during the filming of the scene. Whether or not you would find the use of a CGI baby (or animal for that matter) in a similar situation offensive is your prerogative.

        Will “stupid” (your word) people think the effect is real, and in turn harm an animal through recreating it? Possibly. But let me put this in a way that you might “get it” from my point of view (again, your words).

        Did you see the movie War Horse? A cavalry charge of horses bore down on a line of machine guns. Will people go now go and grab a horse, charge into a line of fire, because they saw it in a film? Hey, they might. But is it likely? No.

        You need to approach the danger of people loading up a giraffe and heading for the nearest overpass with the practicality and probability. Will people try to recreate this? It’s possible. But is it likely? No.

        We can’t say that the link you are making between being given the idea and then carrying it out is invalid, sure it’s probably happened before and there are some crazy people in this world. But I think you will find that most people have the common sense to know that the scene in The Hangover III is a computerized effect. Have a little more faith in human intelligence.

    • Nerd Alert says:


      I think you make excellent points in all of your posts on this thread.

  21. DAFFY says:

    Simulated or not it s wrong. there are crazie s out there that are now teaching their monkeys to smoke

  22. Izzy says:

    Without getting into the subject of live animals being used on set, I will say that the trailer scene with the giraffe and the overpass, made me cringe and change the channel immediately. It’s just not funny (to me, at any rate).

  23. Nerd Alert says:

    First off, monkeys have been smoking cigarettes for decades for research, but also in other countries because people there think it’s funny or okay. There is also an allusion to the research aspect with a smoking monkey in The Big Bang Theory.

    Second, I personally don’t think it’s funny to watch things die or be harmed, so I certainly won’t pay to watch it. If it comes on free, I’ll watch until I find it objectionable, boring, or derivative just like everything else (I’m picky; I don’t finish a lot of movies).

    Still, I think PETA should put their money where their mouths are and start effecting a change. Ghandi said, “be the change you want to see in the world,” and I think that applies here. Once they stop whining, tormenting notorious people, and killing their shelter animals, I might listen to what they have to say. As it stands, it’s an organization of hypocrites.

  24. Marie Antoinette Jr. says:

    The first Hangover was funny as hell. The second one didn’t live up to the hype; and the third one seems to be heading fully into Jackass territory.

    That said, I’d still rather watch a computer animation of a giraffe decapitation than a rodeo. Real animal cruelty disguised as entertainment exists every day in the real world. Why waste energy raging against the fake stuff?

    • Nerd Alert says:


      No one ever mentions the rodeo or the circus, because it’s so “fun” and their kids like it. Ugh.

    • Irishae says:

      Agreed. I think getting worked up over a CGI giraffe is getting a little too serious and loses perspective. The cock fighting is more dubious, but I’d have to see it in context.

      Random bit of info: the Humane Society may be present during actual filming, but they don’t inspect where the animals are kept at the end of the day which is usually where you’ll find most instances of animal negligence, especially on big budget films that use large animals such as horses. The people responsible for oversight, such as veterinarians and legit animal handlers, are contracted by the production companies. Yeah…about that. International animal welfare groups do exist, but their standards differ. For instance, up to dozens of animals were killed during the LOTR trilogy under the watch of the Animal Welfare Institute of New Zealand (AWINZ), who were never able to provide sufficient documentation to warrant a “no animals were harmed” tagline.

  25. Jane says:

    I can’t stand that kind of thing with animals in a movie. I know it is fake, but it is not something I want to see. There are crazies out there who think it is funny to do the something similar. If people laugh at the idiot in the movie who causes the death of a helpless animal, then why not do it in real life and get a laugh. It happens.

    I have watched the other two movies and enjoyed them, but I will pass on this one because of the giraffe scene. I just don’t want to see it.

  26. Nance says:

    Not funny, but I’m not schock either, it’s simulated, it’s a movie, it’s acting… I will never be team PETA.

  27. Amy M says:

    You should check your facts a little closer. No Animals Were Harmed is a project of the American Humane Association (not the Humane Society) and is basically a rubber stamp for the movie industry. They have supervised the production of a number of movies during which animals were injured or killed.

  28. Irishae says:

    Yes, you’re right and thanks for pointing that out–I was aware that it is AHA, but typed Humane Society somehow (probably because my local shelter always comes to mind :) ). Using AWINZ as an example, animal welfare groups that oversee productions are not always AHA-approved, whose guidelines are stricter than most laws and regulations. They must provide documentation for AHA to endorse the validity of the end credits. In any case, people assume the best seeing “no animals were harmed/ill-treated/neglected,etc.” taglines, giving them a false peace of mind.

  29. LV says:

    I already thought the 1st movie was so offensive in all possible ways, I can’t believe they made 2 more. It enrages me every time I hear about these movies honestly.

  30. CG says:

    I’m glad someone finally said something. Every time I’ve seen this trailer I’ve been upset about that scene. Its disgusting and awful, and should not be considered funny. Although judging from the laughs in the theatre, many don’t agree.

  31. Sarah says:

    I think its awfull that theres so much animal violence in the movie!!!!!!!! very bad movie!!!