The 400-Word Review: The Hangover Part III
By Sean Collier
May 29, 2013
The initial installment of Todd Phillips’ lost-weekend franchise, The Hangover, was a surprise hit in 2009. An innovative structure and strong script made stars out of Zach Galifianakis and Ed Helms; with enough box office receipts to buy several Vegas penthouses, future installments became inevitable.
The sequel, 2011’s Part II, was defined by laziness. Phillips and crew traded Vegas for Bangkok, but kept the plot so similar to the original that characters exclaimed “I can’t believe this is happening again!” more than once. Phoned-in and uninspired, yes, but still funny.
The concluding film, The Hangover Part III, reeks of desperation. Apparently, the team didn’t feel that another repeat of the formula would go over. Yes, Doug is separated from the group, and some dangerous locales (Tijuana among them) are visited. But there’s none of the let’s-figure-out-what-happened mayhem that drove the first two movies.
Instead, there are poor attempts at dark humor. While the trouble in the first two flicks was mostly self-inflicted — we stole a tiger! I got a face tattoo! — in Part III, people die. Animals are abused. Characters openly express hatred for one another. None of it is funny.
Any series attempting to over-milk a premise must up the stakes; this week’s other franchise release, Fast & Furious 6, features the largest set pieces in an already-zany series. But where Phillips might’ve created a fittingly over-the-top premise, he instead just strung some callback scenes together and added depravity. (Okay, so it’s lazy and desperate.)
The truly troubling scenes are those where violence appears in place of much easier comedic setups. Galifianakis’ character is re-introduced in the process of buying a pet giraffe; while driving the creature home, he accidentally decapitates it on an overpass. Phillips and co-writer Craig Mazin could’ve instead found ways to incorporate the care of a giraffe into the film, and that might’ve been funny. Instead, they just killed it. Not only is the sequence profoundly unfunny, it’s depressing. (Cooper is even made to casually dismiss the killing in-character a scene later, as if he’s instructing the audience to do the same.)
The performers are still skilled, and the few laughs Part III can claim are to their credit. Overall, though, this film is so bad as to mar the original. If the movie weren’t so upsetting, you could almost feel bad for Phillips; it must be depressing to unwittingly ruin your signature creation.
Sean Collier is the Associate Editor of Pittsburgh Magazine and a member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association. Read more from Sean at pittsburghmagazine.com/afterdark