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The Hangover Part III (A Movie Review)


The Hangover Part III

Starring Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms, Zach Galifianakis, Justin Bartha, Ken Jeong, John Goodman, Melissa McCarthy, Heather Graham, Jeffrey Tambor, Mike Epps, Sasha Barrese, Jamie Chung, Sondra Currie, Gillian Vigman, Oliver Cooper and Mike Vallely.

Screenplay by Todd Phillips and Craig Mazin.

Directed by Todd Phillips.

Distributed by Warner Bros. 100 minutes. Rated R.

The Hangover series sort of wheezes its way across the finish line with The Hangover Part III. Or does it? A final segment during the ending credits appears to be teasing yet another adventure for the Wolfpack, even though the ads and all the stories leading up to Part III insist this is the end of the road for this group. It even says, “The End” right at the top of the poster and refers to the movie as “The Epic Finale of The Hangover Trilogy.” 

However, The Hangover Part III does answer one question that has burning since the first Hangover movie became a smash hit and critical favorite, despite being written and directed by journeymen whose previous films had been of questionable quality and whose stars were not exactly superstars. That question was simply this: Was the original Hangover just a happy accident? Was it a moment of providence, luck and divine inspiration (and yes, I know I am using that term very loosely) that could never quite be repeated?

Sadly, it appears the answer is yes, it looks that way.

The Hangover Part III at least doesn’t cynically try to remake the first movie like the first sequel. It does come up with a way of continuing the story of the first (and to a lesser extent the rerun of the second) without completely retreading it. After all, the blackout premise can only really be interesting and novel once and these guys have already done it twice. It hits a point where these guys are either just stupid or they have serious substance abuse problems if it keeps happening.

Problem is that the filmmakers have not quite figured out what to replace the series central gimmick with. Therefore, the crazed, debauched comic bacchanalia of the first two films is replaced by a much more standard adventure premise. In fact, just from a comic perspective, The Hangover Part III is mildly amusing, no more.

Despite an attempt to seem wild and crazy, mostly shown in unfunny jokes about harming animals, the actual comic thrust of Part III is pretty much limited to an eccentricity contest between Zach Galifianakis and Ken Jeong. And while Galifianakis is always reliably funny in his offbeat roles, in recent years we have Due Date, The Campaign, G-Force, Dinner for Schmucks and The Hangover, Part II as proof that his wonderfully odd acting style may be an asset to a film, but it cannot carry a movie without any additional merits.

There are no tigers, no Mike Tyson, no prostitutes, no facial tattoos, no lost babies, no smoking monkeys. The new additions to the series are more problematic. John Goodman is pretty much wasted in a standard issue gangster role. The idea of Melissa McCarthy playing Alan’s (Galifianakis’ character) dream girl is a brilliant piece of casting, even though with only three scenes they sort of shortchange her character. This new chapter is also significantly more violent than the previous films, with the series’ first three murders (and that is just counting the human fatalities.)

What remains is too much Chow (Jeong’s character). In the first film, he was oddly interesting as an annoying background character, but now much of the plot is swirling around the guy and his annoying eccentricities start to grate. 

As far as the “Wolfpack,” other than Galifianakis, they are kind of wasted. Ed Helms gives his all as dentist Stu, but his character really has no huge impact on the story and his character arc – he’s upset because people don’t take him seriously as a doctor since he is a dentist – is hardly the stuff of great drama, or comedy.

Bradley Cooper may have blasted into the stratosphere of actors due to this role, but here he seems totally over it. He tries to blend in and be inconspicuous, but he has raised his game with The Place Beyond the Pines and his Oscar-nominated turn in the overrated Silver Linings Playbook. Returning to the lightweight comedy of The Hangover, particularly in a not overly good version of the story, seems to have him wishing to be somewhere else.

And Justin Bartha needs to talk to his agent and find out why the hell his character is essentially written out of the film after five minutes, only to periodically reappear briefly. It made sense in the first film (in fact, it was the premise of that film), but in the last two films it just seems like piling on.

I was a huge fan of the first Hangover movie. Despite the awful second one, I held out some hope that the ship could be righted in this final chapter. (At least I hope it’s the final chapter.) It wasn’t. The Hangover Part III is slightly better than the awful Part II, but neither deserves to be in the same conversation as the wonderful original.

Jay S. Jacobs

Copyright ©2013 All rights reserved. Posted: May 24, 2013.

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