The Hangover Part III will be my 2013 example of why it’s better to just give the public what they need, not what they say they want.
In a summer that’s been filled thus far with largely underwhelming sequels, The Hangover III may be the most disappointing simply because it’s so uninspired and completely lacking the fun, spontaneous spirit of its predecessors.
I was in the camp that loved The Hangover and really, really liked its admittedly derivative, but still hilarious sequel, The Hangover Part II.
The response to the sequel was mixed, with critics saying it was too much like the first one, but since there haven’t been a swarm of films featuring its characters trying to figure out what happened after a night of debauchery that was just fine with me. The sequel was a financial success as its $586.7 million haul made it the highest grossing R-rated comedy of all time. So, regardless of the critics, the formula was hardly broken.
Still, Director/co-writer Todd Phillips and co-writer Craig Mazin decide a fix-up was in order and completely flip the now-familiar format. There’s no blackout, bachelor party, photo credit montage, Mike Tyson cameo and worse, no laugh until you cry scenes. You may cry, but more as a result of the film’s mean-spirited nature.
And oh yeah. You’ve already watched the film’s highlights in the trailers.
After Alan’s (Zach Galifianakis) latest oddball stunt causes national headlines, his family and Wolfpack buds — Phil (Bradley Cooper), Stu (Ed Helms) and Doug (Justin Bartha) — stage an intervention with hopes that he’ll finally grow up and get himself together.
Where once his eccentric behavior was endearing and funny, Alan devolves into an obnoxious irritant that just does silly things for a lame punch line.
It’s frustrating as Galifianakis is game and up for doing anything to make a joke work, but Alan’s formerly random behavior becomes predictable and boring.
The film is really his journey to becoming a better person, but Alan isn’t the kind of character you invest in that heavily. You just want him doing some occasional crazy stuff to annoy Phil and Stu. It’s a simple formula, but it’s botched beyond belief here.
The gang gets roped into another wacky situation when they encounter Marshall (John Goodman), a drug lord mentioned in the first film and partner of Black Doug (Mike Epps), who want their help in settling a score with Mr. Chow (Ken Jeong). Just for insurance, they take Doug hostage. This one time, Bartha doesn’t miss out on the fun and was likely grateful for not having to be in the film longer than his token appearance.
Right away, that Hangover tone is lost from the film, playing out more like a sequel to Phillips’ other successful collaboration with Galifianakis — Due Date — just with Phil, Stu and some cameos from former cast members. Here, this stroll down memory lane doesn’t feel like the joyous reunion it should and comes across more calculated with no real reason.
Helms and Cooper don’t mail it in, but they seem to realize they don’t have a lot to work with here and lack that manic energy and charm that came so easily to them in the first two films. It doesn’t help that Mazin and Phillips largely make them supporting cast members to the annoying Chow and Alan Show.
Chow was a character whose act was getting stale in Part 2 and it’s clear early on that he’s overstayed his welcome as Jeong can’t do anything else shocking with the character even as he offers fellatio, smells butts, eats dog food and goes full frontal nude (again). Chow is best used in small doses and his increased role here completely derails the film.
There’s a post-credit scene, but it’s so ridiculous and over-the-top that fans of the franchise should just skip it or better yet pretend the series stopped after two installments.
I’ll need a triple shot of whatever Alan mixes as I could use a Wolfpack-sized blackout to forget this wretched finale to what had been a great comedy franchise.
Rating: 1 out of 10
** Check out my other reviews, including my take on Epic and Fast & Furious 6 here.