Directed by: Todd Phillips.
Written by: Todd Phillips & Craig Mazin based on characters created by Jon Lucas & Scott Moore.
Starring: Bradley Cooper (Phil), Ed Helms (Stu), Zach Galifianakis (Alan), Justin Bartha (Doug), Ken Jeong (Mr. Chow), John Goodman (Marshall), Melissa McCarthy (Cassie), Jeffrey Tambor (Sid), Heather Graham (Jade), Mike Epps (Black Doug), Sasha Barrese (Tracy), Jamie Chung (Lauren), Sondra Currie (Linda), Gillian Vigman (Stephanie).
The first Hangover film worked, in part, because it was so unexpected. At the time, Todd Phillips was the director behind some terrible (School for Scoundrels), some bad (Road Trip), some passably mediocre films (Starsky & Hutch, Old School), Bradley Cooper was hardly a movie star, Ed Helms was still the fourth guy you thought when you thought of The Office, and Zach Galifianakis was the standup comedian your stoner friend kept raving about, but you never actually saw. It worked because it had a very simple idea, and built around that idea with three personalities that played off each other well, and threw in a ton of offensive humor – that wasn’t as offensive as it could have been because it was funny. In the four years since The Hangover, there have only been a few films that can match it on a pure laugh-out-loud moments scale.
Because the movie became such a hit, a sequel was inevitable. The filmmakers reassembled the whole cast, and tried very hard to recreate the magic of the first movie by setting it in Bangkok instead of Vegas. Everything was bigger in the second movie –the baby was replaced by a mischievous monkey, and the filmmakers tried to outdo the first movie by taking everything further – and the result was pretty much a disaster. If you’re going to be offensive, you have to be funny – and The Hangover Part II was not funny. Now comes The Hangover Part III. After a lackluster second installment filmmakers usually do one of two things for the third installment – either go balls to the wall to redeem themselves, or make the laziest film possible to suck as much money out of the box office as possible while the series still has some goodwill. Unfortunately for us, after an inspired start (I don’t think I’ve ever seen a giraffe decapitation joke before) The Hangover Part III is pretty much the definition of the later.
This time, instead of a wedding bringing the Wolf Pack together – and it’s a funeral (Alan’s dad). Alan’s family is worried about him and want him to go to some place called “New Horizons” (whatever the hell that place is supposed to be is never explained, probably because it doesn’t matter). Alan agrees only because Phil, Stu and Doug are going to drive him to Arizona themselves. But – of course – they don’t make it there. On the way, they are kidnapped by Marshall (John Goodman) and told he wants them to track down their arch nemesis/drinking buddy Chow (Ken Jeong). They have three days – and of course, he’s keeping Doug hostage until he gets them. Thus starts a journey to Tijuana, and ending, of course, in Vegas.
I suppose we should be grateful that the movie doesn’t reuse the same “hangover” story from the first two films again – but this plot isn’t any better. And it gives rise to the film’s biggest problem – too much Jeong and Galifianakis. Both actors can be hilarious – but both are best in smaller doses. Even on the brilliant Community, Jeong’s Chang is best when he’s not driving the plot – and see him in a few brief scenes in Michael Bay’s Pain and Gain to see how to use him effectively. Here, he has to drive most of the action – and while he has a few great moments (I found him singing Nine Inch Nails’ Hurt at Karaoke inexplicably amusing), he wears out his welcome. The same can be said of Galifianakis – in the original Hangover, he was hilarious, because he took a backseat to Bradley Cooper and Ed Helms – and his craziness was used just enough so it didn’t crossover into annoying. Here, Cooper and Helms aren’t really given much to do – they have become the supporting players, and as a result, I quickly grew tired of Galifianakis and his absurdity.
The filmmakers have promised that this is the last Hangover movie – and that’s a good thing. Really, they should have stopped after the first one, as the last two films have proven there really is nothing else they can do with these characters. Now that the series is over, The Hangover Part II and The Hangover Part III will be quickly forgotten – and hopefully, we’ll just remember when the original film – which is still hilarious.