Movie Review: The Hangover Part III
By Matthew Huntley
May 28, 2013
The Hangover: Part III is a creditable step up from The Hangover: Part II, but then it would almost have to be. However, it’s still a far cry from the original in terms of freshness and laughs, which makes it even more of a relief that the ads claim it’s the “epic finale to the Wolfpack trilogy.” Let’s hope that holds true, because if there’s one thing Hollywood doesn’t need, it’s another worn out franchise that doesn’t know when to end.
To be fair, Part III starts out funny and is interspersed with some semi-inspired comic moments that remind us why the first one was so loved—namely the screenplay introduces new and amusing character traits beyond what we already know, which is really the point of any sequel. For instance, we learn that Allen (Zach Galifianakis), the bearded oddball stuck in arrested development, has an angelic voice and can sing “Ave Maria” really well. He performs this early on at his father’s (Jeffrey Tambor) funeral, which kick-starts the main plot and sends Allen, Phil (Bradley Cooper), Stu (Ed Helms) and Doug (Justin Bartha) on another one of their crazy adventures. This time, at least, their shenanigans aren’t instigated by a night of binge drinking or drug use, which is either a sign the filmmakers have grown up beyond this premise or they’ve simply run out of ideas. I’d say it’s sort of a mix of the two.
On their way to drop Allen off at a mental institution in Arizona, the pack is hijacked by a crime boss named Marshall (John Goodman), who demands they find and retrieve Leslie Chow (Ken Jeong) because he stole $21 million in gold from him. Marshall figures the group’s previous run-ins with Chow make them the best men for the job and so he takes Doug as insurance until they bring him in. Luckily Chow continued to keep in touch with Allen after he escaped from a Bangkok prison and let him know he was going to be in Mexico, which conveniently narrows down their search.
And so the movie unfolds its routine and basic plot, which is actually more somber and violent than most comedies.
The first two Hangover movies had a certain lightness about them, but with Part III, we get the sense director Todd Phillips and his co-writer, Craig Mazin, were at a loss of what to do with these characters without the familiar story line of simply having them retrace their steps after getting drunk, stoned or high the night before (Phillips and Mazin probably assumed the audience wouldn’t buy this a third time), so they resorted to a heist-kidnapping-chase movie scheme and probably hoped the characters’ interactions and behavior would deliver the humor.
We hoped for that too, but the movie doesn’t quite succeed. It can best be described as mediocre - a few laughs here, a few more misses there - but it’s ultimately inconsequential and doesn’t leave much of an impression on us. There are few bright spots, including a sweet and funny romance between Allen and an abrasive pawn shop owner (Melissa McCarthy) - their lollipop exchange is golden; and when Allen has an earnest discussion with the baby from the first movie, who’s now four and under the impression Allen is his biological father.
As for the rest of the movie, well, it’s filled with too many moments of dead space and awkward silences that leave us wondering why Phillips and Mazin thought their script was funny. Most of these involve Chow, who’s an obnoxious character if there ever was one. He eats dog food, sings karaoke and walks around nude, but scenes like these aren’t necessarily funny; they’re just weird and, frankly, stupid.
Honestly, most peoples’ motivation to even see The Hangover: Part III is because of their fondness for the original. It certainly wouldn’t be because they liked Part II, which was more or less a carbon copy of its predecessor, only more contrived. But even though the series has rebounded somewhat, that’s not enough to consider Part III a keeper. I can appreciate how the premise has changed up a bit, and that Phillips didn’t feel the need to rely on tired gags like a cameo by Mike Tyson, but it’s evident these characters and their misadventures have been rung dry. It’s sort of an unwritten rule in Hollywood that by the time a Part III of any franchise comes around, the franchise itself has pretty much run its course and descended into ho-hum territory. The Hangover: Part III sticks to that rule all too well.