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The Hangover Part III review

The legend of Chow’s gold


Despite a successful box office turnout for The Hangover Part II, critics and audiences threw the sequel to the 2009 original under the bus — a perfect example of a large box office haul solely based on the success of predecessor (cough, Transformers, cough).  I feel a certain obligation to view a complete trilogy once I’ve started it as if not continuing with the story would make the viewing of the original film into a wasted effort of sorts (or should I learn to cut my losses?). The 2011 sequel met harsh criticism for its undeniable similarity to the original film. Instead of continuing on with the lives of the characters, it felt like director Todd Phillips took the same plot of the original and simply moved the location from Las Vegas to a raunchier, edgier Bangkok.  Paul Giamatti appeared to class up the joint, but it wasn’t enough to save it.

In 2013, The Hangover Part III sought to right the wrongs of The Hangover Part II.  Phillips didn’t open on a wedding and nobody who needed finding got lost. In many ways, this film takes the only direction a filmmaker could take it: Alan (Zach Galifianakis- Dinner For Schmucks, It’s Kind of a Funny Story) needs professional help.  John Goodman (with what looked like an e-cigarette between his fingers) serves villain duties and shows up to give the film a plot.  Ken Jeong (“Community,” Transformers: Dark of the Moon) displays a legitimate acting range within a character as Chow strikes several dark notes. One admirable aspect of the 2013 film is the musical focus on classic rock — an appreciated departure from the Top 40-dominated earlier franchise entries. The third entry in the Hangover franchise isn’t the worst, but it’s far from the best.

Of the three films, The Hangover: Part III has the easiest, least complicated script structure. Alan is the obvious protagonist of the film whereas we haven’t been offered a specific main character in either of the first two films. We follow him on his journey toward mental health and the gold of Leslie Chow.  Galifianakis plays Alan with an even edgier psychology than before. Jokes aren’t continuously pumped out because several plot points depend on Alan coming to terms with reality. Fresh off his Oscar nomination, Bradley Cooper’s handsome, cool Phil (Silver Linings Playbook, The A-Team) yet again tags along for the ride with the severely underwritten Stu (Ed Helms- “The Office,” “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart”). Other franchise characters return as well: Justin Bartha, Ken Jeong, Jeffrey Tambor, Jamie Chung, Mike Epps and Heather Graham.

Simply put, the movie just isn’t funny enough for the price of admission. Several jokes work but many fall flat and Phillips peppers a few serious moments throughout the film to convey the maturation of Alan. It seems as if Phillips just hasn’t quite harnessed the lightning that struck in 2009.  That being said, The Hangover Part III is a much worthier sequel than the 2011 sequel.


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