The Hangover Part III

Directed by: Todd Phillips

Starring:  Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms, Zach Galifianakis, Ken Jeong, Heather Graham, Jeffrey Tambor, Justin Bartha, and John Goodman

Comedies very rarely have successful sequels, let alone a trilogy.  As I watched The Hangover Part III, all I could think was that the creators should have stopped after the original Hangover movie.  Why did they have to taint my memories of Stu, Phil and Alan? Oh right—because the franchise is worth hundreds of millions of dollars. The original film grossed $467,483,912 worldwide, and even with a tepid reception, The Hangover Part II earned $586,764,305.  Money, not creativity and good writing, drove The Hangover Part III, which is why it ultimately fails.

The film picks up years after the Wolfpack’s Thailand experience and Stu (Ed Helms), Phil (Bradley Cooper) and Doug (Justin Bartha) are settled into married life. Alan (Zach Galifianakis), however, is at a crossroads.  He is in his early forties, still lives at home with his parents and is refusing to take his medication.  Without his meds, Alan is out of control.  It all comes to a head when Alan purchases a giraffe (the worst special effect ever), and accidentally kills the giraffe while driving home, causing a major, multiple car pileup.  Alan’s father Sid (Jeffrey Tambor) is fed up with Alan’s shenanigans and is on the verge of cutting him off when Sid has a heart attack and dies. 

After Sid’s death, Alan’s family, along with the Wolfpack, stages an intervention to convince Alan to check into a facility in Arizona.  Alan agrees and Stu, Doug and Phil agree to drive him to New Horizons.  As the Wolfpack drives cross country, their past catches up with them.  Their old frenemy Leslie Chow (Ken Jeong) has just escaped from a Thai prison.  Marshall (John Goodman) and black Doug (Mike Epps) are looking for Chow because he stole over twenty million dollars worth of gold from them.  Marshall believes the Wolfpack can find Chow because Alan has been writing letters to Chow while he’s been in prison.  Marshall kidnaps Doug and threatens to kill him if the Wolfpack fails to deliver Chow and the gold to him.  Stu, Phil and Alan must follow Chow to Tijuana, Vegas and beyond to save their friend.

On a positive note, there are several scenes that actually caused me to laugh out loud.  Most notably, the scenes between Alan (Galifianakis) and his love interest Cassie (Melissa McCarthy), and Ed Helms’ visible disgust during a lollipop exchange between McCarthy and Galifianakis brought a few chuckles.  Mike Epps also is a scene stealer, and really adds some comedic flavor to the film.  In addition, there is an extra scene after the credits roll that demonstrates the actors’ willingness to still travel in absurd and strange places for a laugh.

However, The Hangover Part III fails to garner any major laughs.  As an initial matter, there is too much of a focus on Leslie Chow (and I don’t just mean his willingness to randomly flash his penis).  Jeong’s over-the-top character Mr. Chow can be entertaining in small doses, but he quickly becomes annoying with extended screen time. The increased focus on Chow and his relationship with the Wolfpack was a huge misstep.

Moreover, the script is just mediocre.  Most of the jokes in the film fall flat, and the plot is uninteresting.  There are not any scenes in the movie that caused me to burst into uncontrollable laughter or laugh until tears came to my eyes.  I cannot quote particularly witty or clever one-liners, nor are there many scenes that I can point to for their hilarity.   When I think of the original Hangover, I think of so many hilarious moments: the scene at the police station, Mike Tyson singing Phil Collins, the tiger snooze jam, Alan’s man purse, or the fellows rudely discussing sex in front of a female convenient store clerk, to name a few.  There was just so much to laugh about in the original movie.  But the camaraderie, the creativity and the energy that drove the original movie is missing from this final installment.  I even got the sense that the actors were not enjoying themselves anymore. Simply put, watching Stu, Phil and Alan stumble around looking for someone is no longer fresh or amusing.

I hate to say it, but you’ll need multiple tequila shots to enjoy this last installment to the Hangover franchiseThe Hangover Part III fittingly gets a wasted rating.