Film Review – The Hangover Part III
The Hangover shouldn’t have worked as well as it did, but it did mostly because of the chemistry and magnetism of its stars. And it should have been left alone, but the filmmakers, suspecting they’d stumbled upon a winning formula, cooked up The Hangover Part II. The second installment was too formulaic, though, being an exact retread of the original plot, but with a bunch of “insteads”: instead of Las Vegas, the wolfpack was in Bangkok; instead of a tiger, there was a monkey; instead of Doug’s wedding, they were attending Stu’s. If there’s one thing The Hangover Part III can’t be accused of, it’s following that same formula. Still, anyone going to see The Hangover Part III knows exactly what they’re getting themselves into. This third and final installment continues to employ the same sophomoric and vulgar humor of the previous two films, but, unfortunately, the original charm of the wolfpack that carried the first film has worn thin.
Truth be told, though, this film isn’t all that different from the others. Doug (Justin Bartha) is still left out of the mix, and the wolfpack’s main trio—Alan (Zach Galifianakis), Stu (Ed Helms), and Phil (Bradley Cooper)—must rush from location to location to solve a mystery before time runs out. The mystery of this film revolves around Chow (Ken Jeong), whom we witness escape from a Thai prison at the outset of the film. He has stolen a large sum of money from a Las Vegas druglord (John Goodman), and the druglord wants it back. Knowing that the wolfpack has the odd luck of running into Chow wherever they go, he holds Doug for ransom, giving the remaining trio three days to find Chow.
And this is where the movie either wins you over or doesn’t. I, for one, dislike the character of Chow greatly, but I know there’s a large number of people out there who disagree with me and find his brand of obnoxious and mean-spirited humor hilarious. Here, he and his antics take center stage. So, for large parts of the film, I was just waiting for a scene to end so we could move on to action that didn’t involve him. If you’re a Chow fan, however, this is your film.
Did Chow’s predominant presence ruin the movie for me? No, not exactly. The film managed to retain the manic, chaotic fervor that is the hallmark of the Hangover films. Not all of the jokes landed, but many of them did. It’s a matter of probability: you throw so much stuff against a wall, something’s gotta stick. I laughed out loud during many parts, most of them involving Alan, who still retains his doofy charm. They made a smart decision balancing out Chow’s energy with Alan’s, because he is the franchise’s heart. Galifianakis was the first film’s breakout star, and for the same endearing reasons, he helps this film float. This final film in the “trilogy,” as they like to call it, follows Alan’s character arc through to a conclusion. Whereas he was a mostly static, comic-relief character throughout the first two films, here we see Alan mature. Towards the end of the film, he is given a few surprisingly touching scenes of self-discovery and growth.
I feel like my review is a little beside the point, though. If anyone has any interest in The Hangover Part III, they know what’s in store for them, and this film caters to that demographic. This film achieves what it sets itself out to do and in that regard it’s successful, but I really hope that this is the last of the Hangover films. There’s nothing left to plunder. Everything that could be considered a loose end from any of the previous films has been tidily wrapped up in The Hangover Part III, from “black” Doug to Jade, the hooker. There’s nowhere left to go. Plus, that fresh spark that was ignited by matching Helms, Cooper, and Galifianakis together has lost its draw. Watching this film, I had a keen sense that they had grown a bit too comfortable in their roles. They didn’t exactly seem to be phoning it in, but their humdrum performances betrayed to me a sense that these roles have become redundant—just like the movies they’re in.
Final Grade: B-