Mark Reviews Movies

The Hangover Part III


1 ½ Stars (out of 4)

Director: Todd Phillips

Cast: Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms, Zach Galifianakis, Ken Jeong, Justin Bartha, John Goodman, Mike Epps, Melissa McCarthy, Heather Graham, Jeffrey Tambor

MPAA Rating: R (for pervasive language including sexual references, some violence and drug content, and brief graphic nudity)

Running Time: 1:40

Release Date: 5/23/13

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Review by Mark Dujsik | May 22, 2013

The Hangover Part III, which is theoretically and hopefully the final installment in this series (Who knows nowadays?), seems to be a direct response to the fact that the previous movie was basically a retread of the original one but with only a change of locale. Here, the characters don't end up blackout drunk in one place and have to piece together the events of the previous night to find their friend.

No, this time, they know where their friend is and just follow a bunch of clues from Tijuana to Las Vegas to track down an obnoxious acquaintance who is the entire reason they've had so much trouble over the years. Apparently, the whole excessive-intake-of-alcohol-and-other-substances thing has nothing to do with their woes. It's just the annoying international criminal they let out of a trunk on their first misadventure.

It's the same but different. On the surface, it certainly appears distinct from its predecessors on a structural level, and for that, screenwriters Craig Mazin and director Todd Phillips at least deserve a little credit for recognizing how inherently lazy the first sequel was. That's not to say this movie isn't lazy; it's just not as transparently so.

Phil (Bradley Cooper), Stu (Ed Helms), and Alan (Zach Galifianakis) once again lose their buddy Doug (Justin Bartha) while on the road to bring Alan to a rehab facility in Arizona. This time, he's kidnapped by Marshall (John Goodman), the head of a criminal organization whose name was dropped in the first movie.

After a string of flashbacks recapping everything that's happened previously, we learn that Marshall was the victim of a robbery. The thief was Mr. Chow (Ken Jeong), who had the gall to steal $21 million in gold ingots that Marshall himself had stolen. Alan has been exchanging letters with Chow, who escapes from a prison outside of Bangkok in the movie's first scene (hiding a tunnel behind ones of those inspirational posters with a picture of a kitten on it, which is kind of amusing), and Marshall believes the three are the best chance he has of finding Chow and the twice-pilfered gold.

The guys have had a slight adjustment of their personalities; their dislikeable edges have been softened. Phil is no longer hateful, save for one moment in which he says he thinks the decapitation of a giraffe, which leads to a massive traffic accident on a busy expressway, is funny.

We must pause for a moment from the flow here to point out that, yes, you just read the phrase "the decapitation of a giraffe," and yes, there is a graphic giraffe decapitation in the second scene of the movie. The strangest element of the scene (Yes, there's something stranger than the beheading of a giraffe) is how Phillips attempts to distract us from the poor creature's fate by inserting a single shot of the trailer hitch shaking, hinting that perhaps the trailer will come loose. It's a poorly established setup—a single fake-out that barely registers. Further, it only serves to make firm the point that the "joke" is that this giraffe is going to die; it's only a matter of how.

The gag continues the tradition of the key problems with the humor of these movies. First, the jokes are quarter-heartedly set up with either a shock or nothing of note resulting; second, they're mean-spirited for the sake of being mean-spirited. There's less of the second quality in this movie, but one has to wonder about the movie's disregard for life—both animal (When his cockfighting roosters get loose, he shoots one and smothers another with a pillow) and human (Alan listens to music while his father has a heart attack and seems almost happy to have witnessed Marshall shooting one of his associates).

Returning to the characters, Stu is less of a pushover, meaning he's an afterthought, and Alan, while still primarily coming across as a naïve man-child, is back to his sociopathic tendencies. The third is a bit of a slip in the wrong direction, but the characters really don't matter in this installment, which moves from one plot point to the next, stopping only for exposition, a random bit of usually unsuccessful humor here and there, and revisiting old memories before the gang's climactic return to Vegas.

I chuckled occasionally during The Hangover Part III (There's a break-in that provides the majority of those, from colorblindness delaying the usual cut-the-red-wire scene to the inevitable revelation of a certain character's betrayal). In the end, though, I felt mostly relief that, for the moment, this series is finished.

Copyright © 2013 by Mark Dujsik. All rights reserved.

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