Directed by: Todd Philips
Starring: Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms, Zach Galifianakis, Ken Jeong, John Goodman
Blockbuster comedies are a hard sell for me. Most of the time these made for the masses sorts of films are just too bland. The first Hangover film for example was just mildly amusing at best. Now, last year’s Ted was utterly hilarious. Ted was a slow burner that ended up being a blockbuster but there was no expectation for that level of success when it premiered. So I may be the complete wrong person to be reviewing The Hangover Part III. I will keep in mind that this movie is almost exclusively crafted for fans of the first two films. Based on this final installment’s execution the filmmakers never planned for Part III to be the film that brings new fans to the franchise; it’s a finality for fans that have stuck with it from the beginning.
Even the last big marketing push for The Hangover Part III began selling this film as “the final film in the epic trilogy”. While it’s obvious that a trilogy was not the plan when the first film was made it’s still amusing that the marketing is taking advantage of the three-peat situation. It’s not only the marketing though: this film for better or for worse actually does find a way to tie everything together, to make all three films one big story. Now I’m not saying the execution is good, I’m just saying that it was attempted. The story grasps at straws from previous films and even crafts some new straws in order to tie the films all together. What you end up with is something somewhat convoluted and definitely outlandish (but not in a good way).
This film puts goofball Zach Galifianakis in the spotlight and if you dig his brand of silliness there are some funny moments in the film from him. Alan (Galifianakis) has been off his meds and after the death of his father the “Wolf Pack” assembles to convince him to go into a rehab center. He agrees and they hit the road to Arizona to take him to the facility. Little do they know that Mr. Chow has escaped from prison and is up to his shenanigans which will soon have the entire crew back in Vegas fighting to save their friend from a mobster played by John Goodman. Mr. Chow (Ken Jeong) also takes center stage for much of this film and similar to previous installments of this franchise he steals many scenes. In fact Chow ends up being the funniest part of this film. Bradley Cooper is honestly slumming a bit in this film but he makes the best of his character by playing the subtle ring leader and enjoying the chaos even when it’s not so obvious that he is enjoying it.
The story is a mess and often doesn’t make much sense. The best part of the story happens early Mr. Chow and Stu have to break into a house that Chow owned prior to going into prison. There’s actually a fun little plot twist there. After that chapter in the film the story goes downhill. The comedy in the Hangover Part III has completely shifted now from actual comedy to “in jokes”. “See this scene is funny because of what happened in the first one” sorts of joke permeate the script and set pieces. That may be the ultimate failing of the film: it didn’t have the guts to be just its own story, not even a little. Perhaps the best decision made in the script was to do away with the trope of setting the story around what happens after a drug induced party where no one remembers what happened last night. In that respect the movie did want to do something new even if it never does actually do anything new. The only redeeming factor here is for loyal franchise fans. The film does give the characters a completed story arc across the three films and a nice but formulaic ending. Warning: do not leave when the credits start. The funniest moment in the entire film comes about halfway through the credits.