USA TODAY: "Give this to MacFarlane: He threw everything he had at it. He dressed up like the Flying Nun. He played with sock puppets. He radiated charm, if not cool. And, of course, he told jokes. A tad nervously, perhaps, but he did manage to land a fair number of them. He even got Tommy Lee Jones to laugh at a joke about getting Tommy Lee Jones to laugh, which has to count for something. Oh, and he sang and danced. A lot."
WASHINGTON POST: "MacFarlane, the potty-mouth cartoon mogul turned latter-day lounge lizard, did a fairly middle-of-the-road job as host on a fairly middle-of-the-road telecast. He occasionally found the balance between the knifey, pop-savvy humor of his TV shows and his other side as a show-biz sycophant who sings all the standards at the top of his lungs. What you got was a combination of sicko and retro, an Oscar show hosted by someone who waited until Oscar night to discover that he’s only so-so at stand-up comedy."
CHICAGO SUN-TIMES: "Listen -- a billion people are throwing up. That's a rough estimate of course, but every year somebody at the Oscars says a billion people on the planet are watching the program; however many watched this year's Oscar show, they may well have felt sickened by it. It was a stomach-churning, jaw-dropping debacle, incompetently hosted and witlessly produced. Hollywood historians will debate whether the 1989 Oscar show, disastrously produced by Allan Carr (with Rob Lowe singing to Snow White), will remain the worst ever or if this year's, sadistically concocted by producers Neil Meron and Craig Zadan, will take the dishonor as all-time most horrible. Both, let's face it, will live in infamy, like Pearl Harbor. "
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: "Some of this stuff was pretty funny. But by calling constant attention to the naughty factor, MacFarlane also created an echo chamber of outrage, working a little too hard to top himself with faux-scandalous gags about race, Jews in Hollywood, and the the killing of Abraham Lincoln."
VARIETY: "Much like Hugh Jackman's spirited stint a few years back, it felt like the Tonys had a baby with a Vegas revue, albeit on a much larger stage."
L.A. TIMES: "Well, that didn't work. Despite the valiant efforts of Adele, Barbra Streisand and a surprisingly witty Daniel Day-Lewis, not to mention a last-minute surprise appearance by First Lady Michelle Obama as co-presenter of the best picture award, touted as the first Oscar telecast with a theme — a tribute to musical Hollywood — was long, self-indulgent and dull even by the show's time-honored dull-defining standards."
HOLLYWOOD ELSEWHERE: "The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences got the show they deserved last night. They owned it and one day, trust me, they won't feel so good about this. As usual the show felt a little schmaltzy, a little out-of-time in a gay Las Vegas sense. The show's producers, Craig Zadan and Neil Meron, got to remind us what a great film 'Chicago' (which they produced) was and how much we miss films of this calibre."
THE WRAP: "He delivered the Oscars producers pretty much exactly what they signed up for, because it felt an awfully lot like a 'Family Guy' episode—a few jokes, some 'zany' pop culture references, some music, and a gay-panic joke."
DEADLINE: "This is one of the lamest show openings I've ever watched. The worst part is that Seth is killing every punchline by laughing over it. And here comes the inevitable Mel Gibson putdown. This is going to be a loooooong night. 'The room is dead,' says one agent from inside the Dolby Theatre."