It all ends. As the promotional rollercoaster began, the third and final part of the Hangover trilogy took a few notes in publicising its finale from fellow trilogy closer, The Dark Knight Rises. A similarly “epic” conclusion, this time the turn of famed Wolfpack, endured and loved by many, judging by its ridiculously successful box-office statistics, return for their final chapter. But despite its big promises, The Hangover Part III is neither funny nor indeed epic, and is more proof that this Wolfpack needs to be put to sleep.
Starting with a Shawshank-esque prison break, which sees the villainous but surprisingly likeable Chow (played brilliantly again by Community’s Ken Jeong), fleeing a Bangkok prison, and soon thrusting himself back into the Wolfpack’s lives. Said Pack are back, helping Alan (Zach Galifianakis) to both get his obvious mental deficiencies sorted once and for all (killing a giraffe was apparently one step to far), as well as overcome the loss of his father (Jeffrey Tambor).
As the Pack set off to help Alan to rehab, their whirlwind bromance is thrust into new shenanigans at the hands of drug lord Marshall (John Goodman), who is missing some gold. Millions of it, stolen by Chow four years ago, days before he jumped out of that trunk in his tight white briefs and into the Pack’s life. So far, so full circle. Add to the mix the return of Mike Epps and Heather Graham’s Jade, and “all roads lead to this” is about right.
After the critical backlash suffered from Part II, with many bemoaning the lazy carbon-copy storytelling, it was a surprise to some that a third chapter was set for this summer. But its $580m worldwide gross suggested a huge appetite for another chapter, and those fans have their wish. Sadly, Part III suffers from the same worn-out and lethargic storytelling and comedy set-ups that plagued Part II, again feeling more like a straight copy of the previous efforts than anything original. Now granted this chapter does go a little darker, and afford some decent human moments amidst the mayhem, but for the most part it all just feels forced and out of place.
What ultimately lets the film down though is that it just isn’t particularly funny. The stand-out moments, few and far between, have been seen in the trailers (never a good sign for a comedy) and any new or daring pieces of madness, whether regurgitating a daringly stupid stunt in Las Vegas, or more uncomfortable gross-for-the-sake-of-gross moments from Galifianakis’ Alan, just feel hollow and lifeless.
It’s perhaps Galifianakis who could be blamed for the sequels: his stupid yet loveable nature in Part I was a breath of fresh air, and arguably what helped make this a franchise. But his shtick has long outstayed its welcome, and has become just plain irritating. Even the ever-great Bradley Cooper looks as bored as the audience does, and makes his terrific Silver Linings feel like a distant memory.
If there are saving graces, it’s from the supporting players. The aforementioned Jeong, along with Goodman and Bridesmaids’ Melissa McCarthy, look to be having a whale of a time. But like Bradley Cooper, all are much better than the material on show here. The same can be said of director Todd Phillips, whose eye for comedy is being horribly stinted by the franchise. His work on Old School and Starsky & Hutch proved his worth as a premium adult-comedy director, and given the right material he can certainly tickle many a funny-bone.
Sadly, this is an instance of one step too many, and like its forerunner, The Hangover Part III is another case of one step too many. There are some decent moments throughout, and some laughter will be raised for fans of Jeong and Goodman, but on the whole it’s another drab effort that would normally spell the end of a franchise. But if box office receipts are anything like what has gone before, the Wolfpack may well hunt again.
The Hangover Part III is out now in cinemas.
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