When the sequel to the awesome and fiercely original The Hangover released in 2011, only a certain kind of audience actually enjoyed watching it – those who hadn’t seen The Hangover. Since that’s basically no one, The Hangover Part II was a downer to fans.
Someone should’ve told director Todd Phillip him that the answer to “How do you make a sequel as massive a blockbuster as the original comedy?” is not “Remake the first one and add a horny monkey to it.” (For those who haven’t seen the movie, ‘horny monkey’ is not a reference to Zach Galifianakis)
The Philliposophy may be a little different in the threequel, the fact remains: You’re probably still going to enjoy The Hangover III only if you haven’t watched the first part. It’s not that it’s not a decent-ish movie, it’s just that it’s a different-ish movie. Not so much the annoying identical twin you secretly wish wasn’t born – that was the second – but the really, really distant cousin who is cool only because of association with you and who would otherwise have been growing up inside a dumpster.
The synopsis of The Hangover III reads, “This time, there’s no wedding. No bachelor party. What could go wrong, right?” Well, something did go wrong. They forgot to add the sentence, “This time, there’s also no comedy.” The biggest difference between the original and it’s threequel is that this time, not only is there no hangover, there is also no drunken debauchery, no madness, no flashing, no tigers, and – I don’t know why this made me want to cry from deep down inside – no Mike Tyson. Basically, no fun.
Instead, what we get is a storyline in which Leslie Chow breaks out of jail and is on the run from a rival criminal (there’s actually a really smart storyline regarding who the criminal is and how he connects to this series) whose gold he stole. The crime lord, Marshall (John Goodman, in a uniquely unfunny cameo) catches The Wolfpack (Bradley Cooper’s Phil, Ed Helms’ Stu, Justin Bartha’s Doug and Galifianakis’ Alan) to catch Chow instead of finding him on his own, because, you know, international criminals who steal gold from Middle East Sheikhs are cool like that. Anyway, it’s only 21 million dollars.
So the entire movie is then a Tom-and-Jerry chase between The Wolfpack and Chow, and just like the cartoon, it’s something we have seen a bazillion times before. It’s all pretty swell that Phillips wants to go ‘dark’ (WHAT IS WITH HOLLYWOOD THESE DAYS!!) and starts killing people (and a giraffe) randomly and for some reason, he finds that hilarious. But the problem is there’s not enough action in the film for an action flick, and for a comedy, there’s not enough comedy.
The limited laughs do work, mostly due to the ‘majestic giraffe-like’ Galifianakis, who is so insanely talented that you crack up simply because he has *that* face. Cooper and Helms do well enough in their roles, but their characters were designed to be at their funniest only when they have no idea what happened the night before. Without hangovers, they are about as interesting as my repeated use of the term Philliposophy (admit it, it’s growing on you!). Ken Jeong (Chow) gets the same amount of airtime as The Wolfpack in this instalment, and that’s the biggest failing of this movie: you don’t elevate a ‘Ramu Kaka’ to a ‘Lion’. There was a reason you cast him in a tiny role (pun fully intended) initially, and that’s where he belonged.
You’ve got to give credit to Phillips for going into a different, unexpected direction with this third part, and it may even have worked had he not forgotten that he was making a comedy. As it stands, The Hangover Part III is a decent-ish action comedy that’s probably only going to seem hilarious when *you* are drunk.