The Hangover Part III
The wolf pack is back for the concluding chapter of "The Hangover" series. There are no weddings this time, but trouble still finds the unlucky quartet. Despite offering a different direction for the franchise, "The Hangover 3" suffers from the law of diminishing returns.
Since the second film was basically a retread of the original, the series needed to find some new ground to explore. Smartly, director Todd Phillips has moved it into a different direction. This film finds itself going down a darker path than its predecessors, as Alan's trip to rehab get hi-jacked by a gangster looking for gold bars stolen by Mr. Chow.
Alan (Zach Galifianakis) is front and center throughout the film. In the original, Galifianakis' overgrown man-child was a supporting character and came in with some of the best quips of the film. But as the series has progressed, Alan has been pushed to the forefront of the cast, resulting in Bradley Cooper and Ed Helms basically playing second fiddle here.
As Galifianakis' screen time has expanded, "The Hangover" series has become a prime example of the old adage where "less is more." In small doses Alan is funny, but as a focal point of the movie he quickly begins to wear thin. Conversely, Mr. Chow is given a bigger part here, but Ken Jeong is able to avoid the same trap of becoming irritating.
Phillips, who also served as co-writer with Craig Mazin, should be commended for thinking out of the box and moving the series into new territory. Dealing with issues of death, murder and mental illness were not on the menu for the last two films, but are front and center throughout the 100 minute running time here.
But the film also occasionally veers into sick humor territory, as evidenced by the unusually high body count among animals that piles up in the name of laughs. The laughs don't always come, however, with many of the jokes falling flat. It's a hard line to walk where you make a joke about a decapitated giraffe and then follow it up with something still more infantile.
But the tone of the script isn't the only problem; it's a mess in general. Whereas the original was meant to be all over the place due to the chaotic feeling from the characters retracing their steps, this one just feels scattered and unfocused. It jumps from set piece to set piece as if there is a quota for locations that needed to be filled.
The final product feels rushed and slapped together with the script expecting viewers to accept everything at face value without any need for explanation. Being a "three-quel," some leeway is given in terms of character development, but the film doesn't even offer to bridge the gap about what the characters have been doing since the last movie.
The original film had an anything-goes feeling to it, as the characters stumbled upon different situations that were each more improbable than the last. By the mid-point of "The Hangover 3," that anything-goes feeling has faded into a sense of what is coming up, with each plot point so obvious they might as well be highway mile markers.
Being that this is the reported ending to the franchise, it's nice to see a parade of characters returning to the fold. Black Doug (now preferring to be called "Just Doug") and Heather Graham's Jade are both among those returning -- though, unfortunately, there is no return engagement from Mike Tyson. It's good to see these characters again, but because they are thrown into the mix for barely more than a cameo their re-appearance almost feels wasted. If possible, the wives are actually used even less in this film than in any of the previous ones.
The "hidden" end credits scene might give false hope to fans about continued adventures for the wolf pack. It's a scene that shows that same spark that made audiences fall in love with the characters originally. But too much of this film feels like it is a quick cash grab with everyone just going through the motions. After sitting through this, you might be left feeling like you were the one suffering from a hangover!