So. What is the point of this movie? It’s clearly not to make us laugh, because there’s not much funny about it, nor is it about Stu, Phil, and Alan waking up to a whole mess of crap after a night of heavy drinking — and drugging — because there’s no hangover to speak of. It would’ve made more sense if it was simply titled Part III. No, the movie’s most probably about trying to find a way to bring all these characters to satisfying ends without being yet another rerun of the first movie. Yeah, that’s probably it. Sounds good right? Wrong.
The genius of the first Hangover, apart from its brilliantly formulated screenplay, was how self-contained it was. It dipped into one night in the lives of four very different men as they battled the effects of drug-induced hangovers, trying to locate their missing buddy. Sure, the things that happened to them were crazy and outrageous, but that’s where the fun was. By the end of the movie, their unbelievable Las Vegas escapade was over and their lives carried on as usual. What happened in Vegas stayed in Vegas. The movie gave us closure without being too serious about it.
By the time The Hangover Part III arrived, our main stars had turned from unfortunate losers to action heroes with luck on their sides. How many times can the same people be caught up in the same perilous scenario and still come out unscathed? And how can these same people not see danger coming their way when they’ve got someone like Alan (Zach Galifianakis) hanging around them all the time? Alan was funny in the first movie because we hadn’t seen his character before, and he wasn’t a main attraction. After seeing him again in Part II — and in Due Date, and in The Campaign — he is no longer funny (I’m aware that I’m referring to the character, not the actor). His novelty has worn off to reveal a very annoying interior, and he does and says things that nobody would ever do or say. Maybe that’s where his comedy is supposed to reside.
Part III doesn’t begin with a wedding, and therefore doesn’t begin with a bachelor party gone out of control. Leslie Chow (another annoyingly unrealistic character played by Ken Jeong) has escaped from a maximum security Thai prison. The security is so maximised that Chow has to escape through a hole in the wall that he must’ve spent months digging out. Andy Dufresne must be so proud to have a disciple. A large mobster named Marshall (John Goodman) is after Chow for stealing twenty-one million dollars worth of gold bars from him. He kidnaps Stu (Ed Helms), Phil (Bradley Cooper), Doug (Justin Bartha), and Alan, holds Doug hostage, and orders the remaining three dudes to hunt Chow down if they want Doug to stay alive. Why couldn’t he have held Phil hostage instead? Or Alan? Because Doug is the MacGuffin, and he’s the most normal one of the four. And audiences don’t like normal.
Anyway, the trio set off on their hunt and soon realise that the man they’re hunting is not so much a man as he is a freak of nature (who gets his kicks from appearing naked at least once in each film). Chow leaves destruction in his wake, and that includes dead dogs and smothered chickens. Actually it’s quite repulsive how ignorant all the characters are about the welfare of animals. The movie opens with the decapitation of a giraffe. Yes, a giraffe. Later on, Phil says “I thought it was funny. Come on! It’s a giraffe. Who cares?” Well, PETA would. Oh no, wait, Chow disses them too.
Director Todd Phillips said in an interview following the production of Part II that the third part would definitely end the series, and it won’t be like the first or second. What’s ironic is that this entire film series depends on the same formula for success. How can you call it The Hangover if there’s no hangover? And even if there was a hangover, how different could you make it? By giving that statement, Phillips is searching for an answer to a question that shouldn’t even have existed to begin with. He dug a deep hole for himself with Part II, and now, in an attempt to pull himself out of it, he’s strayed off course with Part III. The result is utterly disappointing.
The likability of all his characters has vanished. The novelty of the first film is gone. Yes, the chemistry between his stars has grown and matured, but what use is good chemistry if the script handed to them falls short at every turn? I don’t think the story should have revolved around Alan, the least funny of the lot, nor should it have given Chow such a big role. If Phillips wanted to give his characters closure, he would’ve done a lot better focusing the story on the people they are, not on the people they’re hoping never to see again. And there’s room for a hangover in that.
Best Moment | The scene during the end credits. It’s ridiculous, but it’s funny because it’s reminiscent of the original movie. Maybe Phillips couldn’t hold the urge in any longer and had to spill a throwback one way or another.
Worst Moment | Scenes with Alan? Scenes with Chow? The giraffe’s head flying off and smashing into a car windshield?