At this point THE HANGOVER franchise is to comedic cinema what the TRANSFORMERS franchise is to blockbuster action cinema- the first films each getting their fair share of love, but the sequels were met with an army of haters. Todd Phillips took a lot of hate when THE HANGOVER PART II came out with the exact same formula as the first film and PART III goes way off the beaten path. However, where I actually really liked the first sequel in spite of cloned formula, I find that THE HANGOVER PART III is completely void of the energy or humor that either of the first two were able to squeeze out of this premise.
The third film in the franchise finds Alan (Zach Galifianakis) target by his family and friends as a man in serious need of help and stage and intervention to get him the help he needs. It’s then up to Stu (Ed Helms), Phil (Bradley Cooper) and Doug (Justin Bartha) to drive him there. While on the road the Wolfpack is run off the road and kidnapped by Marshall (John Goodman) who informs them that their hijinx in Vegas ultimately made him cross paths with Mr. Chow (Ken Jeong) who then stole $20 million in gold bars from him and he wants the Wolfpack to track him down- something turns out to be easy, except that Chow refuses to give up without a fight.
I’ll be honest, I love Ken Jeong- well I sometimes do- but I hate his character of Leslie Chow in these movies. He’s my least favorite aspect of the first two and his extended role here is excruciatingly bad this time around. If that’s not bad enough, everything that’s ever been funny about Alan, Stu and Phil’s relationship goes in and out of mildly funny moments to sometimes barely even noticeable. Essentially while the second film may very well be dark it at least was crazy enough to be interesting and funny, but PART III is mainly just dark, mean and suspiciously light on jokes.
Galifiankis definitely has a knack at playing a crazy oddball and he continues to provide some okay laughs here, but they are usually fleeting chuckles followed by awkward silences. There were several occasions that what I’m sure are supposed to be jokes were mead with barely a scoff in my theater- the only thing missing were the cricket churps. I wanted to be able to applaud Phillips and company for intensely embracing the incredibly dark mean spirited comedy, but this time around there is very little that’s memorable or redeeming to the characters or their eventual outcome.
THE HANGOVER PART III does indeed break from the shot for shot duplication of the formula from the first two, but it does something far worse in return by relying far too much on Jeong being a ridiculous racial stereotype and essentially a raunchy cartoon character. The script also relies too much on Galifianakis being really weird- the problem being that it misses more often than it hits. Everyone else here I’m not entirely convinced were working off a script since it seems like Helms and Cooper were working off a script that was entitled THE HANGOVER: WHAT THE F*CK! Down every “twist” and “turn” the Phil and Stu are basically following Alan around giving him curious looks or screaming “What the f*ck” or “What the f*ck is going on?” If the lack of comedy and good ideas isn’t bad enough Phillips is weirdly obsessed with killing every single animal you see on screen even when there is no good reason to do so when it comes to a couple of dogs- I don’t work for PETA or anything, but at that point the cruelty to animals was extremely awkward for a movie that has no good reason to include so much of it.
I’ll admit it, the trailer fooled me and it didn’t take long before I started to believe that the trailer condensed every single passable moment into less than three minutes. THE HANGOVER PART III clocks in at just under two hours and even with a half hour cut off of it I think it would still be well over an hour too long. The time it takes to get from point A to point B fumbles every opportunity at sequences of decent comedy and instead ends up just being an aggressively mediocre film that appears to be more buddy action film than raunchy comedy- the fact that it tries to have its cake and eat it too just puts the icing on the aforementioned incredibly stale cake.
THE HANGOVER was the breakout mainstream hit- THE HANGOVER PART III felt like the extremely dark remake of the first that in my opinion is better than people give it credit for- THE HANGOVER PART III feels like nothing more than a reunion where everyone involved holds nothing but disdain for one another and as a result there’s very little fun to be had. With each film Phillips delves deeper and deeper into material that is really hard to laugh at- the first sequel danced dangerously with making these characters overwhelmingly unlikable whereas THE HANGOVER PART III shoves the characters into the deep end of unredeemable and drowns them in it. The first two films had energy and took chances while this time around the proceedings seem really lame and tame which makes the awkwardly dark moments all the more out of place and stupid. THE HANGOVER PART III is an on the nose example of people needing to be careful what they wish for- the film breaks away from its predecessors in almost every way and it suffers immensely for doing so.
Written By: Luke (@CrummyLuke on Twitter)