I’m not quite sure why ‘The Hangover Part III’ was called ‘The Hangover Part III’. The first two films in this series actually dealt with four friends who had epic hangovers and crazy exploits and adventures. This third installment doesn’t even include a hangover, and oddly leaves a lot of the comedy at the front door to focus instead on violence, murdering animals and action sequences. I’m sure this will score a giant opening weekend box office reward, but bad word of mouth should prevent this third and final act from making any more money past the next couple of days.
The first ‘Hangover’ film was a fun, nutty comedy that garnered gut-busting laughs with its witty dialogue and entertaining characters who got themselves into some off-the-wall situations. Then ‘Part II’ was released and was virtually the same thing all over again, but in a different setting. Despite the many similarities, the sequel offered some genuine funny moments from time to time. However, this third movie is the bottom of the barrel. Instead of making a raunchy comedy with some action beats, director Todd Phillips decided to make a deplorable action-crime film with occasional bits of comedy, and it almost never works.
In the first few minutes, we see a prison riot that leads to the escape of Leslie Chow (Ken Jeong) and two deaths, one of which is an adult giraffe that Alan (Zach Galifianakis) purchased for reasons unknown. In a trailer towed behind Alan’s car, the poor giraffe dodges a few highway bridges until one is too low to dodge. The giraffe is decapitated into a bloody mess that causes a giant highway pileup behind him. This third go-round tries too desperately to push the bounds into more depravity. And no, this isn’t the only act of killing animals. You can add drugging and neck-breaking a few dogs and smothering a rooster with a pillow, to name a couple of other instances.
From Alan’s behavior and actions, it’s clear that he needs some intense help. His family and the Wolfpack decide to stage an intervention and take Alan to a nice rehab facility in Arizona. To sweeten the deal, Phil (Bradley Cooper), Stu (Ed Helms) and Doug (Justin Bartha) agree to drive Alan together to the facility. However, the guys don’t get more than a couple hundred miles before they’re run off the road, kidnapped and tied up by a ruthless mobster named Marshall (John Goodman).
Marshall had over $40 million in gold bars stolen from him by Mr. Chow a few years ago, and can’t seem to locate Chow’s whereabouts. But he knows that Alan has kept in touch with Chow often over the years. Therefore, he kidnaps Doug and forces the other three to locate Chow and his gold. Thus begins our third adventure, which takes the three best friends to jail in Tijuana, a basement in Mexico, and ultimately back to Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas, where this whole franchise began.
One of the few likable scenes in the movie comes when Alan meets the female version of himself (Melissa McCarthy), who runs a pawn shop in Vegas. Their banter, body language and love-at-first-sight is engagingly awkward, yet sweet. It’s definitely one of the highlights of the film. The rest of the 100 minute run-time, the entire cast seems to be bored and phoning it in. Cooper is still fun to watch take charge of the situation and is witty enough to receive a pass. Galifianakis takes in a meatier role here, but his usual quirky characteristics come across more rude than funny. Jeong’s Chow is much less funny here and more aggressive and murderous. Poor Bartha only receives a few minutes of screen time once again, while Helms’ Stu is off-camera a lot and not as animated as he was in the first two movies. Some of the minor characters from the previous two films return for a few minutes, but no instance is fulfilling.
If this is the final chapter for the Wolfpack, it’s a sad and unfortunate way to go out – not with a bang, but with a whimper and a slap in the face. The filming, dialogue and characters feel one-note and vague throughout. The only good thing to come out of ‘The Hangover Part III’ is the end credit sequence that showcases a familiar scenario and sets up a possible fourth film. That part was met with giant laughs by the audience I saw it with, at least.