The Hangover Part III
by Michael Walters
The Cantankerous Critic
“The Hangover Part III” is a slight improvement over the dreadful second installment, but it’s just as pointless. This is one Hangover that never should have been repeated in the first place.
The original captured lightning in a bottle, and delivered big laughs from a seemingly well-worn premise. But now Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms, and Zach Galifinakis’ characters bear little or no resemblance to the characters they played in the first film. They have been reduced to one-note caricatures (Bradley Cooper is the leader and orders people around, Ed Helms screams a lot, and Zach Galifinakis says odd things). Only Galifinakis finds any kind of a through-line to follow in the poorly written part, but there’s only so much one man can do.
The film starts off with the Hangover crew getting back together to take Galifianakis to a mental institution after his father has a heart attack. This promising premise is quickly ditched, though, as it becomes a conventional caper comedy.
A gangster (John Goodman) kidnaps them on the road and takes their friend Doug (poor Justin Bartha gets left out of the party again) hostage. He’s looking for Leslie Chow (Ken Jeong), who has escaped from a Thai prison and is on the run with millions of the gangster’s stolen gold.
The movie shambles from there to Tijuana, where instead of Mike Tyson singing Phil Collins we get Jeong doing karaoke to Johnny Cash’s cover of “Hurt.” It’s emblematic of the movie as a whole, because it sounds like it would be funnier than it actually is. The movie is mostly setup with no real payoffs, or payoffs that just sit there and die before your very eyes.
Things finally start to pick up in the third act, which returns the gang to Vegas. The always welcome Melissa McCarthy makes the most of her limited screen time as a love interest for Galifinakis. The two have a captivating and disturbing chemistry, and she’s the only thing that threatens to give this moribund production a pulse.
The biggest gross-out moment is almost an afterthought stuffed into the ending credits. These are all talented people, and I look forward to seeing Galifinakis, Helms, and McCarthy in other roles. But three Hangovers is two Hangovers too many.