On a worldwide scale The Hangover in 2009 made $467 million dollars, with the first sequel The Hangover Part II in 2011 making $586 million dollars. The Hangover Part III was inevitable. Is any of the new material funny? Or is it just going through the motions for the money? My review after the jump.
Phil (Bradley Cooper), Stu (Ed Helms) and Doug (Justin Bartha) are worried about Alan (Zach Galifianakis). He’s off his medication and a recent “incident” has compelled his family to stage an intervention. To convince him to stay at a rehab type institution, at the “wolf pack” offer to escort him there. Sounds simple, right? Too bad this is the Hangover series where NOTHING goes according to plan. A high-end gangster, Marshall (John Goodman) catches up to them and demands to know where Mr. Chow is. Chow has stolen $21 million in gold bars from him and has recently escaped from a maximum security prison in Bangkok. Of course, considering all the time Chow and the gang have spent together, Marshall immediately thinks the wolf pack may know where he is. As it is how things usually work with these films, Doug is their insurance, leaving Phil, Stu and Alan to find Chow and retrieve the money he stole from Marshall. They have 2 days or Doug is dead. Will they find Chow? And will Alan ever get the help those close to him believe he needs?
Co-writer and director Todd Phillips (Road Trip, Old School) helmed the series after the first film proved to be a massive surprise hit. He took over official writing credits with screenwriter Craig Mazin, and has now created a huge money-making franchise. I wasn’t a huge fan of the first film and despised I the second. This needs to be known before I continue, why? Because these films are aimed at audiences who LOVE these characters; so I need to make it clear that I’m assessing this film as someone who does not. Is The Hangover Part III better than the horrid sequel that preceded it? Yes, but not by much.
Phillips does everything he can to make a gritty, relentless and large-scale comedy epic; which is illustrated by the film’s cinematography. It’s shot on beautiful 35mm film, making just about every place they visit look immaculate yet unforgiving. This film may have some of the best cinematography you or I will see from any film in 2013; which is why it breaks my heart to say despite Phillip’s intentions, The Hangover Part III meanders to such a degree that it forgets that it’s a comedy, and does all it can to be this dark epic. In some ways it succeeds this, but none of it is ever any fun for the audience.
Performances, for very thinly drawn characters are mostly good. Ken Jeong does everything he can to make a very gimmicky and one-dimensional character seem bearable, or at the very least someone who resembles a person. Jeong is good, but he can’t save the irritating character from being little more than a walking punch line to a joke no one’s quite sure exists. Ed Helms is convincing as the nervous doctor/dentist we’ve all grown accustomed to, and once again he elevates the weak character with his performance. Galifianakis proves once again, that he’s a very funny one man show. He is the reason The Hangover Part III can come close to ever being considered a comedy, as he supplies most of whatever laughs remain. Unfortunately Cooper relies on laid back confidence and a smile to carry his character along. His fault? Not in the slightest, he really is trying, but the material just isn’t there.
The Hangover Part III is trying to be a good film, or in the least a film rather than a series of ugly, mean-spirited jokes that somewhat resemble a plot. However as someone who still doesn’t believe these guys could ever be friends, it still proves to be a chore.
By Chris Elena
Director: Todd Phillips
Writer(s): Todd Phillips, Craig Mazin
Starring: Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms, Zach Galifianakis, Ken Jeong, John Goodman,
Runtime: 100 minutes
Release Date(s): Australia & New Zealand: May 23, 2013; USA: May 23, 2013