Rating: 2 out of 5 stars
Run Time: 1 hour, 40 minutes, Rated R
Starring: Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms, Zach Galifianakis, Ken Jeong, John Goodman, Melissa McCarthy, Jeffrey Tambor, Heather Graham, Mike Epps
Co-Written & Directed by Todd Phillips (The Hangover, The Hangover Part II, Due Date, Old School)
Let's just start by saying that The Hangover Part III (opening today) is awful. Even so, it's leaps and bounds better than the second film and yet still miles away from capturing the fun of of the first. Finally, this franchise is laid out to rest.
It follows the group of friends known as "The Wolf Pack." This time around, the friends - Stu (Ed Helms), Phil (Bradley Cooper), Doug (Justin Bartha) and Alan (Zach Galifianakis) - gather for a funeral, which leads to an intervention. As the friends drive off together towards a rehab facility, their car is driven off of the road by a gangster known as Marshall (John Goodman). It seems their tumultuous past has finally caught up with them.
The problem with this film - and the franchise in general - is that the filmmakers wrongly assumed that the success of the first film was built on these characters. It was not. No, the first film was funny and unique because of how it was structured: The film began with a series of crazy occurrences - like a tiger in a hotel room, to name just one - and the rest of the film was spent trying to find out just what the hell happened. Although Helms, Cooper and especially Galifianakis were all funny, the draw was not their on-screen characters. In fact, the franchise might have existed better and longer if it just introduced a new set of friends, with each movie being unrelated to the last. The fun was in the mystery and the absurdity - the familiarity, even - of that fuzzy-headed moment spent recollecting one's thoughts following a wild and crazy night.
But this film continues telling a story of a group of friends that become less and less interesting the more time is spent with them. There has never been a brighter, more shining example of this than the character of Mr. Chow (Ken Jeong), who stole the show in the first film as a bit character. Not only has his character become unfunny, he's now lame, offensive and cruel.
Bill Hader - who recently announced he is leaving Saturday Night Live (and who does not appear in The Hangover Part III) said of his popular character Stefan, that people don't really want a Stefan movie, they just think that they do. The thinking is the same when it comes to Mr. Chow: After his popularity in the first film, people thought they might have wanted to see more of him. Now that we have been presented with The Hangover Part II and Part III, it is clear that the real intervention should have been for the person who green-lit Mr. Chow's upgrade from bit character to major player.
This third film is very much stolen by Ken Jeong and Galifianakis, with the other characters just reacting around them. The biggest disappointment of Part III is that it just isn't really that funny, which is always the dagger in the heart of any movie calling itself a comedy.
Will fans of The Hangover like this last farewell? Probably. But never has there been a trilogy of films made about a group of characters so forgettable. This send-off seems more like a money grab than a final resolution, but that's because it is.
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