There are some moments to treasure, but Todd Phillips’ “The Hangover Part III” mainly becomes less a comedy and more a contract obligation.
In trying to be different from its predecessors, the backbone story of this third installment breaks away from the pattern that made the first film a surprise hit, which actually has its share of ups and downs.
With no wedding, no bachelor party, and no drug-induced amnesia to offer in its basic premise, it avoids becoming a genetic rehash meant to simply replicate the success of the original flick. To its credit, it doesn’t merely recycle the first two movies just to produce a third outing. It ties up the loose ends from the previous offerings so that everything comes full circle for the trilogy. However, its own set of narrative gimmicks still makes for a mediocre reinvention. This cash-in endeavor forms a middling pastiche of multiple genre elements bumping into each other on screen. Except for minimal doses, its trademark fun gets lost without a solidly entertaining means to offset its sharp turn against its distinctive brand of comedic formula.
It is not entirely a bad film and its overall charm helps save this party-boy franchise from going down the drain. But more often than not, this wild misadventure abandons its recipe for situational humor at the expense of sharp-witted laughs. With a semi-thriller, semi-comedy structure, the funny moments are restrained and the story development becomes too dependent on tired and mechanical sequences. Things seem undernourished to exude the same exhilarating rush as the first movie. Without a solid material to hold the storytelling elements closely together, the tale remains contrived and lacking the expected hacky punchlines. But it is still worth noting that the post-credits scene turns out as a generally fun ending to the trilogy.
From its crime flick feel to its road thriller framework, this supposedly hysterical crowd pleaser reveals an underwritten anti-comedy that prioritizes wacky set pieces over uncanny jokes and innovative narrative progression. The desire to come up with a sequel for sequel’s sake overrides the need to produce a film as fresh and as legendary as the wildly anarchic and unpredictable “The Hangover.” Amidst the variety of genre elements available, this cinematic fare provides the mildest of tweaks that pass scenes off as plain undertakings, especially when compared to the inspired and energetic original film.
The Wolfpack keeps up with their likeable extended-adolescent characters in the story, which helps make the movie a serviceable treat. But unfortunately, they barely register the same level of enthusiasm as before. Not given enough cleverly funny stuff to work on, they retrace their steps in their familiar adventures while being mostly stuck in the same gear.
Here, the stellar cast exhibits more boredom for their roles. They hit the roads, but they don’t really seem to be into the movie anymore. They often ignore the possibility of some “acceptably real humanity” seeping into their characters. The tale ends up even more shallow with how they execute their scenes without seriously taking in the main conflict’s emotional requirements.
Bradley Cooper’s career-defining role from years back looks quite bored in this picture. Ed Helms plays a far more boring version of his straight man role. Justin Bartha has nothing much to do, but his case simply yields into the story’s needs to tie the trilogy’s loose ends. Zach Galifianakis tries hard in making something new out of things, but his antics overpower his inherently unsympathetic journey as a central character. Overvaluing wackiness as a character trait, the script betrays his commitment over a narrative that is clearly built around a persona that is reliant on the actor’s performance.
Overall, “The Hangover Part III” is not terrible by current comedic standards of the mainstream canon. It is nowhere near as good as the original, but it is slightly better than the second installment. It may lack inspiration, but it still bets on doing things a little differently. Liking or hating it is ultimately a matter of taste. Lowering one’s expectations is the best way to enjoy it. It would most likely be a painless sit to those merely seeking for some reasons to laugh. It would still have a pretty decent appeal to diehard fans of the record-shattering franchise.