The first surprise about “The Hangover III”: there is no hangover. Secondly, “The Hangover III” is not very funny. What happened? A little Mr. Chow and Alan go a long way. And there is way too much of Ken Jeong and Zack Galifianakis in H3. Director Todd Phillips strategically miscalculates focusing them in the foreground instead of the back. I actually thought “The Hangover II” set in Thailand was hysterical, even though it was criticized for being a clone of “The Hangover”. “The Hangover” was inspired originality—one of the funniest movies ever. Amazing Bradley Cooper returns as solid Phil. He is the straight man relegated to saying, “What the f***?” Granted seeing nominated Cooper in “Silver Linings Playbook”, he has outgrown this, and I acknowledge his loyalty. Anyway, I am in complete agreement with Phil.
“The Hangover III” comes full circle and concludes the trilogy in Las Vegas. Mercifully, what happens in Vegas should stay there. In a bizarre twist, H3 is more an action movie than comedy—very disappointing and totally baffling. This is not the comic equivalent of “The Dark Knight Rises”. Promisingly, John Goodman enters as mob heavy Marshall who again takes kidnapping steady Doug (Justin Bartha). This vendetta relates to Mr. Chow (Jeong) stealing money from H1. Philips and Craig Mazin’s erratic script douses whatever possible hysterics. Stu (steady Ed Helms) is not the butt of the thematic joke. Heather Graham reprises as Jade, the stripper single Mom, but her talents are not at all leveraged. We are mostly left with Alan and Chow’s bewildering bromance. Again, this gets old after about 15 minutes.
Dark comedy abounds at the beginning with a gruesome giraffe highway sequence and a really disturbing family death all surrounding clueless Alan (Galifianakis). This summons The Wolfpack to intervene on Alan’s behalf and well-being. The tragic flaw is that Alan is vastly unsympathetic. The best narrative consequence of it all is Cassie played by uncompromisingly funny Melissa McCarthy. H3 does have its moments particularly with Alan’s man-crush on Phil. In a ridiculous exchange, Alan ask Phil about his shirt, “Is that from Diesel?” Risking his life scaling down the hotel balcony, Alan takes a Smartphone photo of Phil. Phil asks, “Did you get that?” Too bad there isn’t more of that instead of chases and shooting.
The funniest scene of H3 occurs at the very end. Stu is the object of a visual joke that is laugh out loud hysterical. Seems to me that should have been the premise of “The Hangover III”, where the Boys seem completely at home. What a squandered opportunity. I guess we can take solace that they were funny before.
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