The Hangover has been an odd trilogy. The very fact that it has made it to a third part should be either celebrated or questioned. The series started out with a simple idea, “Hey, why don’t we have a bunch of funny guys blackout in Vegas?” and then went on to expand that idea in the sequel, “Hey, why don’t we do the same thing as last time but in Bangkok? Get it? Cause it’s a funny name!” Now with The Hangover Part III, the series throws out its tired formula in favor of something darker and more “grounded” than before.
How does Part III execute this formula? By focusing its story around two of the franchise’s weirdest characters, creating an awkward mishmash of comedy, violence, and nudity. But the main question here is: Is The Hangover Part III partying hard or hardly partying?
The Hangover Part III
Director: Todd Phillips
Release Date: May 23, 2013
The Hangover Part III is all about Chow (Ken Jeong) and Alan (Zach Galifianakis). Chow breaks out of his former Bangkok prison, but meanwhile, Alan goes off his medication and it eventually leads to the death of his father (Jeffrey Tambor). In the wake of Sid’s death, Doug (Justin Bartha), Phil (Bradley Cooper), and Stu (Ed Helms) hold an intervention for Alan and try to get him to a rehabilitation clinic. On the way to that clinic, the Wolf Pack is kidnapped by Marshall (John Goodman), a drug lord that Chow stole from. Marshall then gives the Wolf Pack (minus Doug, because The Hangover) three days to find Chow and return the money that was stolen from him.
The first thing I want to address with this review is Hangover‘s new plot formula. Does different necessarily mean better? Yes, with a few drawbacks. The lack of predictability works well in Part III‘s favor as it does lead to some of the film’s more interesting sequences. While unpredictability has always been a mainstay of Hangover, the Wolf Pack’s journey hasn’t been this interesting since the first part. For instance, there’s a sequence in which the Wolf Pack plus Chow break into a house. A few nonchalant dialogue situations are added into this would be predictable scene and help add some much needed levity to their overall situation. But that’s the main problem with Part III. Since the new film sees it fit to explore darker areas of theme and character, these small moments of humor are not only necessary, but become a detriment to the overall film when humor is lacking.
And there’s quite a humor drought throughout most of the film. This is the section of the review that’s the hardest to write. My definition of humor may be different from yours, so how could I possibly criticize the humor of Part III? I like to criticize humor from its origin. To define where a joke is supposed to come from and then examine how either original or run into the ground a particular gag is. And Part III definitely runs its premise into the ground, digs it up, sticks its tongue into its mouth, and then buries it again. Remember how I said Part III was all about Alan and Chow? Your enjoyment of the film completely relies on how much you like either of those characters. Chow’s involvement in the franchise comes to its inevitable point of transition as he’s now the major focus. Which means he almost gets the most screen time and dialogue (second only to Alan), and is the source of the film’s jokes. So if you don’t like Chow and find his vaguely racist tinged humor worrisome, then you’re not going to like Part III.
After watching two films that dealt with the consequences its central characters paid for their debauchery, it’s weird to see them be bystanders in their own film. Sure the gang’s chase after Chow takes them back to Vegas (leading to a well laid out strobe light sequence), but the route they take to get there has almost nothing to do with them. At least Alan’s character growth is handled well, as well as comedy could handle it I suppose. Thanks to his lack of medication Alan takes a more childish turn, causing most of jokes and rants to look semi-pitiful (and that is a well from which most of the film’s humor continuously draws). But that sadly grows grating as the film rolls on rather than be as endearing as the film wants you to believe it is. At the very, very least, his journey leads to a pleasant turn from Melissa McCarthy. Who, once again, takes a bit role and turns it out beautifully.
The Hangover Part III isn’t the finale the series wants it to be, but it’s not a complete failure either. It’s just disturbingly average. The good (John Goodman does the most he can with Marshall, the cartoonish nature of Part II is ridiculed early on in the film, the exaggerated direction of the film overall works since it’s focused so much on an exaggerated character) unfortunately doesn’t outweigh the bad (the series still has a problem with musical transitions). So it all just smushes together into a wishy washy picture.
There’s an extra gag at the end of the film that almost makes up for the film’s problems. It was an entertaining moment that suddenly comes crashing down as the weirdest, yet most representative of the series, visual happens. But even after all of that, the gentleman sitting next to me said, “I still like Part I more.” He had an interesting point. Maybe you’d be better off just watching Part I again.
Matthew Razak – I didn’t think it could get this unfunny. While The Hangover Part II may have just been a rehash of the first one at least there were some laughs. You’ll spend most of Part III waiting for the funny to happen and then it never does. In fact you spend most of the film waiting for something to happen, but nothing does. The characters, who were never meant to last longer than one film, are flat and uninteresting and most of the jokes are dead. Sensing this they decided to try to make a sort of dark, meta comedy about what we laugh at and the inner workings of the characters. It all fails because none of it is funny. A seriously bad film to cap off a series of movies that should have ended after the first one. 32 — Bad