“The Hangover Part III” is a step up from the overly repetitious previous entry in the trilogy in terms of its storyline – but a disappointing stumble downward in comedic value. The plot resembles a low budget action thriller and delivers a few amusing twists and blatant nods to the first two parts while sporting an uncommonly thin slice of morals about friendship. It’s intriguing but rarely worthy of hearty laughs. “Part III’s” greatest letdown is its unexpected eschewing of the raunchy comedy the series is known for in favor of abundant, awkward conversations primarily featuring Zach Galifianakis’ Alan and Ken Jeong’s Mr. Chow. Even the brief interludes with esteemed talent like John Goodman and Melissa McCarthy can’t inject much more than a momentary grin of recognition quickly followed by a grimace of acceptance for a space squandered.
After bumbling Alan Garner’s (Zach Galifianakis) exceedingly dimwitted mishaps reach catastrophic levels, his friends and family decide an intervention is their last resort. Although initially reluctant, the oddball man-child finally agrees to head to a treatment facility in Arizona with his longtime “Wolf Pack” friends Phil (Bradley Cooper), Stu (Ed Helms), and Doug (Justin Bartha). But their expedition takes an alarming turn when Alan’s innocuous communications with career criminal Mr. Chow (Ken Jeong) make the group a target of disgruntled gangster Marshall (John Goodman). Now, with Doug held hostage, Phil, Stu and Alan have only a few short hours to track down and apprehend the wily Chow to save their friend.
It begins with slow motion and opera music, setting up a frenzied, dramatic chase sequence from a begrimed Bangkok prison – contrarily introducing opening credits for an out-and-out comedy. Spunky lead-in aside, there is an overabundance of wasted opportunities in this final (hopefully) chapter to the financially successful franchise – namely with the multitude of supporting characters. Phil has always been the most reasoning, realistic role; Stu represents caution and uncertainty; Alan is spontaneity and insanity. This is the repetitious formula that stands now that, thankfully, the memory loss/drugging gimmick has run its course. Outside of the original trio, the writers just couldn’t be bothered with humor – Doug and Black Doug, the antagonists, McCarthy, Heather Graham, the girlfriends/wives and even bit parts like a pharmacy assistant don’t seem to add laughs (or are included just for the sake of familiar faces). Although Alan’s father, played by the inimitable Jeffrey Tambor, lands a couple of laughs (in a brief appearance) and Ken Jeong’s predictably goofy Mr. Chow, alternating between staggeringly fatuous and villainously deranged, are intended to bolster the comedy, it’s essentially become a one-man show. It is now a series of unfortunate events starring Zach Galifianakis.
Like Will Ferrell movies, doing little to help any career save for Ferrell, this third part has become a Galifianakis vehicle, presenting barely anything to fall back on for audiences thirsting for a well-balanced riot. And while mayhem certainly finds its way into the picture, much of it is founded on startling contrast, all involving Zach: a beautiful rendition of Schubert’s tearful “Ave Maria” is abruptly followed by a screeching microphone; the joyous glee of a child heralding a new pet is cut short by a highway massacre; and an instant love connection is cacophonously interrupted by the clumsy toppling of musical instruments. Still, “The Hangover Part III” is a rare sequel that outdoes its predecessor, utilizing impressive stunts, perverse plot twists, and playful nastiness for more fun than before. It wasn’t a particularly difficult task, and the conclusion carries on far too long, but this last act has strayed from the anticipated repetitiveness just enough to be unexpectedly amusing.
– The Massie Twins (GoneWithTheTwins.com)