When a franchise ends, it can go one of three ways — more of the same, slightly different, or huge finale. Depending on fan expectations and the performance of the other installments, something different could work, but other times may cause backlash.
In terms of The Hangover Part III, change is good. The morning after plot shtick is gone, the excessive nudity is reduced to almost nothing, and the result is a darkly comedic send-off that is perfect for this franchise. While some of the gags are still the same, this is an entirely new adventure for the Wolfpack.
After causing a massively costly pile-up on the freeway, Alan (Zach Galifianakis) has pushed his family to their limits. To help, Stu (Ed Helms), Phil (Bradley Cooper), and Doug (Justin Bartha) agree to drive Alan down to a rehab facility in Arizona. Everything is going well, until the Wolfpack is ambushed by mobster Marshall (John Goodman), who’s looking for the notorious Leslie Chow (Ken Jeong), who has recently escaped from a maximum security Bangkok prison. To assure they bring him Chow, Marshall kidnaps Doug as collateral, as Stu, Phil, and Alan are forced to search for Chow in the place they never thought they’d go back to: Vegas.
Director Todd Phillips, who co-wrote the movie again with Part II’s Craig Mazin, finishes what he started back with the first installment. Making subtle changes while maintaining the feel of the series, Phillips and Mazin manage to tread new ground without making it seem entirely different, keeping the fans in mind.
The Hangover Part III doesn’t break a lot of new ground, but, seeing that this is the third and final installment of the franchise, that’s not a bad thing. The film clearly respects the fans, bringing back Heather Graham as Jade, Mike Epps as “Black” Doug, and includes a cameo from the director himself. While John Goodman and Melissa McCarthy are the new comers, the main focus is on the original cast, who shine like gold and continue to please until the bizarre final end. Those looking for the gratuitous nudity and drug use may easily be disappointed, but this was never the true showcase of the films. Still perhaps not the most intelligent, it’s certainly the most respectable send-off the franchise could’ve hoped for.
FINAL VERDICT: The Hangover Part III may not have the titular morning after the first two installments had, but it offers so much more than trying to force more of the same. While answering questions no one possibly could’ve thought to ask of the first two movies and showing that the end doesn’t have to be dull, Part III ends on a solid note, proving comedy doesn’t have to get stale by the third film.