The Hangover Part III
Directed by Todd Phillips
Starring Bradley Cooper, Zach Galifianakis, Ed Helms
After the disastrous “The Hangover Part II,” which effectively remade the original film beat by beat, fans will be relieved to learn that the final movie in the Wolfpack trilogy at least attempts to create a new storyline.
Unfortunately, there’s not much to what is little more than an excuse for a series of high-flying comic action sequences in place of the usual hangover pageantry. Disinterest rules the day: Everyone from director Todd Phillips to the cast seems bored, going through the motions in the hope that things wrap up quickly.
Here, Alan (Zach Galifianakis), Stu (Ed Helms) and Phil (Bradley Cooper) are forced by gangster Marshall (John Goodman) to find the troubled Leslie Chow (Ken Jeong), who has stolen Marshall’s gold. The quest involves a trip to Tijuana and the dreaded Las Vegas, though there’s barely enough plot for 100 minutes.
Other than the revamped story, which includes a robbery scene and some suspenseful widescreen hijinks above the Vegas Strip, the key change this time around is a renewed focus on Alan. The movie begins with the overgrown man-child being taken to rehab and chronicles the dawning of his adulthood, which finally sets in at age 42.
Galifianakis remains the most interesting disruptive force in these movies, selling Alan’s intense belief that there’s nothing cooler than offering a handshake before pulling it away. But this character simply doesn’t work as a serious person; Stu and Phil are such tortured regular guys in these situations that Alan must be the surreal figure who actually enjoys the madness.
In terms of misappropriating familiar people, though, no offense here is worse than the reliance on Chow. Few individuals in any movie series have been quite as insufferable. We’re talking Jar Jar Binks level annoying. It’s no fault of Ken Jeong’s, who plays up the character’s grating qualities because there’s not much else to do, but it’s been downhill ever since Chow leapt out of that trunk in the first flick.
“The Hangover Part III” moves briskly and benefits, again, from the fact that it doesn’t repeat the first movie again. Few directors working on comedies of this scale are better at pushing a plot than Phillips; the film never lingers, even if there isn’t much to accomplish. And there’s some inspiration here: I’ll never get tired of, say, Alan careening down a highway with a giraffe in the backseat and Hanson on the soundtrack.
But in the end, the movie relies heavily on flashbacks to the first movie, both literally and in scenes set at Caesars Palace, the return of Heather Graham and baby Carlos. More than anything, this third installment is another reminder that Phillips and company struck comedy gold in 2009. Some movies just don't need sequels. Stay home, re-watch the original and thank me later.