|May 23, 2013|
|Warner Bros. Pictures|
Rated R for pervasive language including sexual references, some violence and drug content, and brief graphic nudity
|The Hangover Part III
I remember my first experience with the original “The Hangover” from Todd Phillips. For some reason, I had missed most of the advertisements and was walking into the theater with zero expectations. And I ended up laughing hysterically, along with the rest of the packed theater. It became one of the most iconic boys-night-out ventures ever for being clever, inventive, and almost the perfect comedy. Then the sequels came.
“The Hangover Part II” took a sharp turn for the worse. Not only was it not as smart or as resourceful as the first film, it was basically a shot for shot remake of “The Hangover”, acting more like a mad lib on the original (replacing Vegas with Bangkok, replacing Doug with Teddy) than a fresh, new idea. Todd Phillips had almost lost his audience. But when the advertisements for “The Hangover Part III” arrived, the credibility from his first venture still took hold and we got excited one more time. And one more time, our expectations were dashed by yet another ill-advised outing from “The Hangover” crew.
“The Hangover Part III” abandons all the conventions from the first two films that actually worked. This time there’s no forgotten night in which the Wolfpack has to retrace their steps in the “Dude, Where’s My Car” piecing together of the puzzle that was the previous night. This is what made “The Hangover” hilarious: three grown men losing their friend and traveling all over Las Vegas to find him, recalling the stupid shit that occurred and forming a friendship in the process. It was ridiculous, it was raunchy, and it was actually entertaining. “Part III” is questionably a comedy and instead follows the plot points of your run-of-the-mill caper.
Todd Phillips refused to learn from his mistakes. Alan (Zach Galifianakis) in “The Hangover” is one of the best supporting comedic roles in the history of comedies. Make him the main character, as in “The Hangover Part II”, and all comedic value is lost. “Part III” returns to this idea, except adds Ken Jeong’s Leslie Chow to the main character mix as well, another step in the wrong direction. Not that these characters aren’t funny, but having them carry most of the dialogue instead of quick, jabby retorts, and you run the gambit of their snarky one-liners far too quickly.
Needless to say, Phil (Bradley Cooper) and Stu (Ed Helms) are hardly present in this sequel, two men who made the original film the success that it was. Reflecting on the film, I hardly remember Stu even in the film, except to react when someone is killed or to pull from one of about ten whining or angered reactions to something Alan does. Paraphrased from a fellow critic’s review, Cooper looks like he’s going through the motions, ready to get back to Academy Award worthy performances.
The rest of the cast is comprised of quick cameos in order to come “full circle”, except the cameos are poorly handled and feel forced, slapping the audience across the face. We return to Heather Graham for no real reason than to bring her back, but she’s married now and has quick the escort business and has no real attachment to anyone. Carlos, her kid from the first film, returns as well, facing off with Alan, but even this reuniting is wasted. There’s nothing more frustrating that leaving after a film and developing a handful of ideas that could have made a film lightyears better when there are men and women being paid truckloads of money to come with the drivel you witness on-screen.
Kudos for getting John Goodman on board for this comedy, but his brief appearances do not even match those of Paul Giamatti’s from “The Hangover Part II”. Instead, he’s basically just a plot device to put these men on the run again. Melissa McCarthy at least adds some star quality to her role, matching Zach Galifianakis on the same level of infantile humor, but still does not raise this film out of the proverbial gutter.
Even Las Vegas feels like an afterthought. What I thought would be one of the funniest and most epic moments, where Phil is hanging off the side of Caesers Palace while Alan tries to take a picture, becomes a muddled scene that is glazed over. There’s no authenticity to this sequel, there’s no originality, and there’s no real warrant for even stepping into this world again, if you’re not going to go balls to the wall. Watch the advertisements for “Part III” and it’s easy to get your hopes up with lines like “I told myself, I would never come back” and “someone should burn this place to the ground”. But nothing really becomes of this. Destroy some shit. Cause a scene. Burn Vegas to the ground. What happens in Vegas might as well have been anywhere, because nothing actually happens. The most destruction that is caused is when Alan falls on one of the letters of Caesars Palace and a light flickers.
I don’t even want to discuss the abysmal after credits sequence that was shown. Not only did it feel like a complete afterthought and haphazardly thrown together, it was just dumb; plain and simple. In no realm is it justified and really was the final driving nail in this franchise’s coffin.
There’s very little worse than leaving on a sour note. One would almost rather have simply stuck with “The Hangover” and wondered what could have been instead of driving this franchise through crapper after crapper. Todd Phillips will move on to other raunchy comedies and I can almost guarantee there will be a resurgence for “The Hangover” and even though this one touted being “The End”, that phrase means extremely little in Hollywood. So we can only hope that five or ten years down the road, Phillips, or hopefully even someone else, gets their shit together and brings these characters back to their glory days (I smell a prequel). And even if this future sequel is just as horrible as the last two, at least we’ll always have “The Hangover”.