Hangover Part III, The

Reviewed By Peter Sobczynski
Posted 05/22/13 20:51:20

"Trilogy Of Terrible"
1 stars (Sucks)

I found "The Hangover" to be a loathsome example of bully-boy comedy that was crude, sexist, stupid and filled with unlikable people either doing unpleasant things or having them done to them, though my objection was not so much that it was all of those things as it was that it failed to figure out a way of making them even slightly funny in the process. Seeing as how the film grossed nearly a half-billion dollars worldwide, it is safe to say that most of you a.) probably saw the film and b.) probably felt somewhat differently towards it than I did.

I thought that "The Hangover Part II" was one of the worst sequels in recent years--a virtual beat-for-beat retread of the first film. right down to many of the same jokes, that offered viewers nothing new to see other than a change of venue from the original's Las Vegas to Bangkok. This was not just a bad movie--it was a lazy one whose unwillingness to give viewers anything that they hadn't already seen before demonstrated the complete contempt that the filmmakers evidently had for the very people who made them rich in the first place.

Although enough people turned up to make the film another huge international hint, the grosses were nowhere near as high as they were for the original and many of those who actually liked that one were nevertheless put off by the total lack of effort on display the second time around. Now, inevitably, "The Hangover Part III" is upon us and I have to admit that this time around, everyone involved has clearly put in more of a visible effort than they did with the previous installment. The trouble is that said effort has evidently gone into making a film so tired, so terrible and so bereft of anything that could fall under the loosest imaginable definition of the word "humor" that it would single-handedly put off whatever fan base remained after "Part II" and kill the franchise off once and for all.

How bad is it? It is so bad that it makes "Cannonball Run II" seem like a fiercely committed artistic statement by comparison. It is so bad that if you were ranking the great film trilogies in order of quality, it would place somewhere far south of the "Porky's" franchise. It is so bad that it inspired only a few random laughs at best from the preview audience that I saw it with and they a.) got in for free and b.) were presumably fans of the other ones. It is so bad that even Ken Jeong may think twice before placing it on his resume in the future. The only thing it has in common with a hangover is that the morning after watching it, you will wake up nauseous, headachy and vowing never to do it again as long as you live.

As this one opens,, Alan (Zach Galifianakis), the demented passive-aggressive man-child whose mindless misbehavior instigated much of the previously seen chaos, has been off his meds for weeks and his latest lunacies have resulted in the deaths of both a giraffe and his father (although since Dad is played by Jeffrey Tambor, there is always the possibility that it was actually his Uncle Oscar). Deciding at long last that he is out of control and in need of treatment, his family and friends stage an intervention in order to get him help at a facility in Arizona. Inevitably, the job of actually getting Alan from points A to B falls to the other members of the so-called Wolf Pack--Phil (Bradley Cooper), Stu (Ed Helms) and Doug (Justin Bartha).

The four are hardly on their way when they are run off the road by fearsome crime boss Marshall (John Goodman). Without going into too much plausible detail--much like the film itself--it appears that as the direct result of some nonsense of Alan's dating back to the first film, the tragically irrepressible pseudo-gangster known as Mr. Chow (Ken Jeong) was able to steal $42 million dollars in gold bars before eventually landing in a Bangkok. Now Chow has escaped and, working on the theory that the Wolf Pack has the best chance to find him, Marshall orders them to bring him in within two days and takes Doug along with him as insurance. Of course, Alan has been in contact with Chow and this sets off a wild goose chase that takes the guys from California to Tijuana to Las Vegas for the expected array of bizarre misadventures.

Perhaps in response to the criticism that "Part II" being such a blatant retread of the first film, "Part III" does away with the narrative structure of its predecessors--there is no wild party and no mass blackout forcing the guys to retrace their steps in order to discover what happened to them. A revamp of the premise is not necessarily a bad idea for giving the franchise a shot in the arm but in order for that to work, something reasonably inventive needs to be put in its place. Here, the storyline that co-writers Todd Phillips and Craig Mazin have devised is a mystifying affair that too often feels like it was originally developed as a straightforward action film and later retrofitted with stabs at gross-out humor in a desperate and ultimately failed effort to make it fell more like a "Hangover" film.

Actually, they aren't so much "stabs" as they are "furtive jabs that rarely come close to hitting their marks" this time around. The previous films have gloried in pushing the boundaries of taste as far as possible and the fact that they somehow managed to get R ratings despite the depravations on display only serves as one more argument for making the case that the MPAA is a joke. As a result, one might rightfully expect this of all films to maintain or even exceed the previously set levels of outrageousness but not only does it fail to do so, it hardly even bothers to try in the first place.

In fact, there are only two jokes that even really try to go too far and one, involving the decapitation of the aforementioned giraffe, has been given away in every single commercial (although without the shots of the severed head flying through the air seen here) while the other, while mildly amusing, doesn't even turn up until partway through the end credits. The rest of the time, the humor is of a oddly muted variety and after a while, it almost felt as if I was watching the TV edit of the film with all the key moments cut out, rendering the whole thing even more pointless than usual. Then again, when your key sight gag involves a giraffe being decapitated, it is perhaps a good thing that the vulgarity is at a minimum here.

If that wasn't enough--and believe me, it is--"The Hangover Part III" makes one more fatal miscalculation by shifting the narrative from a true ensemble piece in which the three guys are all on equal footing to one in which Galifianakis and Jeong are pretty much front and center throughout while Cooper and Helms are largely relegated to the background. In a way, this shouldn't come as too much of a surprise because the careers of Cooper and Helms have clearly grown beyond such nonsense and their appearances feel more like contractual obligations than anything else--the only lines of dialogue in the film that ring true are the ones where they, through their characters, bemoan the fact that they are once again caught up in nonsense they thought was behind them. The problem is that Galifianakis and Jeong are personalities that best appreciated--if that is the right word--in very small doses and by making their one-note antics the focus of the film, the whole thing becomes absolutely excruciating as a result.

"The Hangover Part III" is bottom-of-the-barrel crap that has nothing more on its mind than luring enough of those not completely put off of the franchise by the worthlessness of "Part II" to win a weekend or two at the box-office before settling into an eternity of broadcasts on Spike TV. However, I like to think that one can learn something from even the worst movies and indeed, there are actually three things that I took away from this one.

1.) Thanks to the likes of the "Hangover" trilogy, "Due Date," "Old School" and others, a case could easily be made that Todd Phillips is indeed the worst A-list filmmaker working today. Even the worst filmmakers have at least one skill that they are at least competent at but Phillips is supposed to be a comedy filmmaker but based on the evidence here, it would be difficult to prove that he has ever even seen such a thing, let alone made a living from making them.

2.) Heather Graham, who turns make a brief appearance reprising her character from the original, most have a portrait of some withered and decrepit creature (possibly Ken Jeong) tucked away in her attic because not only does she look smashing, it appears that she has not aged a single day since "Boogie Nights."

3.) Based on his non-appearance this time around (unless he pops up after the end credits have finished running), it appears that there are indeed some things that Mike Tyson simply won't do for money after all.

In other words, it has a few flaws.

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