In a perfect world, “The Hangover Part III” wouldn’t exist. Neither would its predecessor, “The Hangover Part II”. The unfortunate thing is, when a film makes as much money as “The Hangover” did when it first hit theaters, its transformation into a franchise is inevitable. The first film was so original and clever that neither sequel has been able to duplicate its success, particularly the second film, which was essentially a carbon copy of the first in a different setting.
But director Todd Phillips is back now with the series’ final installment, “The Hangover Part III”. It is not a good movie. But it’s different, almost drastically so, so it stands out against its predecessors, and it wraps up the characters’ stories nicely. In this movie, there is no bachelor party. No one is getting married. In fact, instead of beginning with the promise of a wedding, the film opens with a funeral- -that of Alan’s (Zach Galifianakis) father. The already whacky Alan becomes even more unstable in the aftermath of his father’s death, forcing the other members of the Wolfpack—Stu (Ed Helms), Phil (Bradley Cooper), and Doug (Justin Bartha)—to stage an intervention. They plan to take a roadtrip with him to an institution in Arizona, and Alan reluctantly agrees to go.
But as is to be expected with this group, nothing goes as planned. The gang is soon run off the road by a gangster named Marshall (John Goodman), who had millions of dollars worth of gold stolen from him by the international Chinese criminal, Mr. Chow (Ken Jeong). Discovering that the Wolfpack knows Mr. Chow, and that Alan has been corresponding with him, Marshall takes Doug hostage. If the others ever want to see him alive again, they must find and deliver Chow to Marshall in three days time. And thus begins a new adventure for this wild trio, as they go from Mexico all the way back to Las Vegas—where it all began—to save their friend.
This is a much darker film than its predecessors. It is funny, don’t get me wrong; not as hilarious as the first film, but still pretty amusing. However, people get hurt in this one. Killed, in fact. This juxtaposition of humor one second and violence the next is a little jarring to watch, but in a way it’s necessary, since it is the darkness of this adventure that finally triggers a change in Alan’s way of life, a realization that they can’t keep living so recklessly (that, and he meets a shopkeeper played by Melissa McCarthy whom he takes an instant fancy to).
But the other aspect of this film that is truly cruel and despicable is its portrayal of violence towards animals. In fact, the film seems to glorify it, certainly to play it for laughs. The opening scene involving a giraffe is extremely cringe-worthy, especially knowing that it’s supposed to be funny but really isn’t. This trend pops up again a few more times throughout the film. At one point, Mr. Chow pokes fun at the others for not wanting to kill a guard dog. It’s sad really that the filmmakers seem to think this is the kind of “humor” they need to resort to, especially when the chemistry between Phil, Stu, and Alan is funny enough on its own.
In many ways this movie is still better than “The Hangover Part II” in the simple fact that it’s different. It’s fun to see these characters thrown into a new situation instead of a rehash of the same-old same-old, even though the story isn’t all that clever and is so very over-the-top (though really, that is to be expected of this kind of comedy). And it turns out that Jeong, whose Mr. Chow stole the show in cameos in the first two films, isn’t as amusing when he is upgraded to being one of the main characters. The best part, actually, is the ending, which ties up the story neatly and sweetly, even if it does refute the idea we had that these characters were going to try to lead peaceful, normal lives from now on. And there are some appearances from other characters who were in the first movie that are good to see; they almost have a sort of sentimental value at this point.
Still, “The Hangover Part III” is mediocre at best. Fans of the first two films will appreciate the way it wraps up the story, but the casual moviegoer, even fans of raunchy comedies in general, may find it too dark and brutal. But considering that it’s a film that really shouldn’t even exist, it could have been worse.
Runtime: 100 minutes. Rated R for pervasive language including sexual references, some violence and drug content, and brief graphic nudity.
Check out showtimes for this movie and more at the following St. Louis-area theaters:
- Wehrenberg Theatres
- AMC Theatres
- Regal Movie Theatres
- Galleria 6
- Chase Park Plaza
- Granite City
- Moolah Theatre
- Hi-Pointe Theatre
- St. Andrews Cinema
- Plaza Frontenac Cinema
- Tivoli Theatre
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