In 2009, Todd Phillips and co. had a surprise smash hit with “The Hangover”, a movie about three men who awaken from a night of blackout drinking to find they’ve lost one of their friends. They then have to recreate the events of the night before in order to retrace their steps and find their friend. In 2011, Todd Phillips and co. had another smash hit with “The Hangover Part II”, a movie about three men who awaken from a night of blackout drinking to find they’ve lost one of their friends. They then have to recreate the events of the night before in order to retrace their steps and find their friend.
“Part II” was widely criticized for being a regurgitation of the first film. It was nearly a note for note facsimile, and critics punished it accordingly. In response, Phillips and co. pledged “The Hangover Part III” would not be “the same old thing”. Instead, they made a movie that has little to do with anything fans love about the first two films.
No drunken debauchery, no blackout, no “Hangover”.
Worst of all, few to no laughs.
As Phil (Bradley Cooper), Stu (Ed Helms) and Doug (Justin Bartha) drive Alan (Zach Galifianakis) to a mental health facility, they’re attacked by a van full of armed men who work for a gangster named Marshall (John Goodman). Marshall informs the “Wolf Pack” that Leslie Chow (Ken Jeong), the volatile criminal that they’ve associated with in the past, has just escaped from jail. Marshall claims that Chow stole $21 million in gold from him years ago, and now he wants the Pack to track Chow down and get the gold back. To ensure their cooperation, Marshall kidnaps Doug, leaving Phil, Stu and Alan to find Chow, recover the gold, and save their friend.
Luckily for them, Alan has been keeping touch with Chow in jail, and he has a lead on where to meet him. In order to corner him, the Wolf Pack will have to cross the Mexican border to Tijuana, and eventually back to Vegas… where it all began.
Don’t let those legendary hot spots fool you, however. In this chapter, there’s no partying in the Wolf Pack’s future. “The Hangover Part III” repositions the three reprobates as quasi-bounty hunters, out to track down Chow. There’s no drunken antics involved this time out. No regrettable acts. It’s “The Hangover III: The Chase of Chow”. I can understand, after the trashing Part II took for its lack of originality, the desire to venture into new territory and explore different elements with the plot. However, there’s little to nothing here left that the fans love about the first two movies outside of the characters.
The characters, of course, are the same for the most part. Cooper’s Phil is still the slick, composed one, Helms’ Stu is still exacerbated by just about everything, and Galifianakis’ Alan still barely has a grip on reality. Jeong wears out his welcome in an expanded role as the chatty, unpredictable Chow. Melissa McCarthy makes her first appearance in the series as a creepy love interest for Galifianakis. Their scenes together are uncomfortably funny, as the two overweight, socially challenged people discover a mutual attraction.
Sadly, however, that’s one of the films few bright spots. For most of its run, “The Hangover Part III” is a caper movie with a dull caper. Chow lives the wild and crazy life, but the Wolf Pack do not. For the most part they just try to put up with each other (and Chow) while trying to meet a mobster’s demands. There’s a reunion moment that fans of the franchise will appreciate (and I won’t spoil), but as to what fun and insanity this installment brings to the table, the answer is “not much”.
The characters provide some laughs here and there, but there’s nothing inherently funny about the story or the events. Occasional spots of humor simply aren’t enough to meet expectations for this concluding chapter of this high-profile comedy trilogy.