The “Wolfpack” returns in the final installment of the smash hit trilogy, The Hangover III—and right from the start the movie fails to live up to its moniker, as no hangover occurs this time around. Rather, a lackluster action/adventure movie has been hastily scraped together for cash and prizes so that yet another Hollywood studio can capitalize on the surprise success of an innovative film, which further bastardizes the industry and keeps original stories far away from the viewing public in the form of undeveloped scripts in the hard drives of never known screenwriters who will eventually starve and die—ARE YOU HAPPY WITH YOURSELF HOLLYWOOD!?!? While it’s admirable to stray from the format of Hangover’s past (because honestly, nothing will live up to the original) this third installment is a regurgitation of other past trilogies that raced to the box office in an attempt to squeeze every last coin from the pockets of a blindly unsuspecting public. For reference see (but don’t watch) Rush Hour 3, Meet the Fockers. Jurassic Park III, American Wedding, Austin Powers: Goldmember, Legally Blondes, Spiderman 3… (I just threw up in my mouth a little). Just like the aforementioned disasters, Hangover III overstays its welcome and leaves a bad taste in your mouth.
The “plot” of this atrocity is about as empty as the booze bottles on the suite floor of the first film. After Alan’s (Zach Galifianakis) dad dies, the Wolfpack’s Phil (Bradley Cooper), Stu (Ed Helms), and Doug (Justin Bartha) decide to take Alan to a treatment center to help him deal with his issues. Along the way they are kidnapped by a gangster named Marshall (John Goodman) whom over the course of an arduously long and forced backstory monologue reveals that Mr. Chow (Ken Jeong) has stolen several million dollars in gold bars from him and the Wolfpack have to find him and return the gold or Marshall will kill Doug (don’t worry, it wont make sense for you either). The gang sets out on a west coast journey to find Mr. Chow and the missing gold so that they can rescue Doug before time runs out.
Writer/Director Todd Phillips (The Hangover II, Due Date, Old School) and writer Craig Mazin’s (Scary Movie 3, Scary Movie 4, Identity Thief) script is abysmal. The plot devices are so juvenile and cliché that the actors couldn’t seem to deliver them with even a smidge of credibility. Hangover II and now Hangover III were not written by the original writers Jon Lucas and Scott Moore, and it is painfully obvious. What made the first film such a success was the use of a common and simple story concept, executed in a fresh way. The people behind this movie seemed to believe that callbacks to the original film and selling in-script ad spots were more important. I stopped counting the number of product placements just a few minutes in (none of which will be mentioned here).
Also, Phillips and Mazin clearly never read “Save the Cat” because PETA was all over this movie. A giraffe is decapitated, several roosters are shot and smothered, and two dogs are tranquilized and then have their necks snapped. I suppose the studio must have tested the film with Michael Vick before the final edit so he could give them a few pointers on how to make thing s “really hilarious.”
If I could use only one word to describe the quality of the dialogue…
Lines like “wait that’s brilliant, we can use the app (which shall remain nameless) to locate my phone and find the van” were blatantly used to set up the next sequence to a series of groans from the audience. Cooper and Helm’s lines were interchangeable. Ed Helm’s character Stu was neglected completely, turning him into a “Phil” clone. The original “Three Stooges” formula (Galifianakis = the outlandish Curly, Helms = the intelligent Larry, and Cooper = the brash leader Moe) was substituted for a Moe, Moe, watered down Curly abomination that was neither funny, nor made any sense—all of which added to the hot mess shit-show that was the dialogue.
Some scenes didn’t even seem to have a through line. The intervention scene for Alan has the usual gang plus some tattooed man (whom we’ve never met and will never see again) and a child from across the street (whom we’ve never met and will never meet again). These characters offer NOTHING to the scene. I’m not really certain as to why they are there, except maybe to show that Alan is strange, which at this point we’ve already figured out over the course of the last two films. Respected character actor John Goodman’s exposition at the “Lock In” point of the script was a thinly veiled attempt to set up the next two acts of the film—it’s the type of unimaginative scene that won’t even pass muster in the first semester of junior college screenwriting.
Forget scenes, some SEQUENCES didn’t even make sense. The Wolfpack travels to Tijuana in search of Chow but NONE of the potential funny plot devices for Tijuana are utilized, making the uniqueness of Tijuana irrelevant to the story. For those of you unfamiliar with Tijuana, it’s where “Hangovery” type stuff of legend happens—donkey shows, crazy foreign pimps, terrifying police, and general/life threatening weirdness. For some reason the writers decided to put the characters in Tijuana and then IGNORE THAT THEY ARE THERE. The story arc could have just as easily taken place in Boise, Idaho!
I’m sure despite all of the poor critical reviews for this movie, some of you will still decide to shell out your greenbacks and subject yourself to Hangover III. A few surprises in the plot prevent the film from being a total snooze fest. Namely, Galifianaki’s performance once again carries the movie. His rendition of Ave Maria is pretty funny, as are his often off-beat quirks and comments that while not living up to Hangover I status, certainly initiated a few rounds of laughter from time to time. A decent twist in Tijuana and the cameo addition of Melissa McCarthy as Cassie, a pawnshop owner playing Alan’s future other half provides some comic relief. At the end of the credits a very nice callback to the original occurs that allows the series to go out on a somewhat positive note.
While Hangover III is less tasteless than II, it failed to capture the lightning in a bottle combination of raunchy shock humor and expert comic timing of I. Thankfully there appear to be no plans for a Hangover IV, because the only hangover that occurs in this installment is the one I have after trying to wrap my brain around how such a hilarious concept was made nearly unwatchable. The Hangover series passed out hard after Hangover II, and was given a Hollywood style Bloody Mary to drag out the party for Hangover III. Hopefully after this last binge, it won’t ever wake up.