I should start off by saying that I have a mixed relationship with THE HANGOVER series. I absolutely loved the first film, which I thought it was one of the best comedies made in the last couple of years. However the same thing couldn’t be said about the 2nd film sadly, while I didn’t think it was as bad as everyone made it out to be but it was still a big disappointment. Despite that I was still very much looking forward to the 3rd film nonetheless, which I hoped that it would be both a good and worthy final film to end the series on. Unfortunately it wasn’t.
Set two years after the events of the 2nd film, the Wolfpack reunite when Alan’s (Zach Galifianakis) father Sid (Jeffrey Tambor) dies from a heart attack not long after Alan caused a massive car pile-up on a freeway with a giraffe. Noticing that all of Alan’s bizarre recent behaviour was due to fact that has been off his medication for over last six months, his friends Phil (Bradley Cooper), Stu (Ed Helms) and brother-in-law Doug (Justin Bartha) decide to take him to a mental hospital so that he could be treated. Along the way they are run off the road by a group of masked men who take them to a gangster named Marshall (John Goodman). He tells them that he is looking for their old acquaintance Leslie Chow (Ken Jeong), who has recently broken out of prison in Bangkok and has returned to the U.S. The reason that Marshall is looking him is that a few years earlier, Chow stole 20$ million in gold bricks from him and he wants it back. Knowing that Chow will trust the Wolfpack, Marshall decides to hold Doug hostage until they can find Chow and the gold and bring them both to him. So the Wolfpack set off to find Chow but along the way their journey leads them back to place that they swore they never return to… Las Vegas.
One of the main positive things I can say about THE HANGOVER: PART III is that is better than 2nd film but not by much, at lest for me anyway. It does have a couple of elements that I did liked (which I’ll get into soon) and as well as having a plot that isn’t just another rehash of the 1st film’s story. Unfortunately it suffers from one major problem and its the main reason that I think stops it from being a solid comedy is this: it’s just not really all that funny. Unlike the other two films in the series (yes, even the 2nd one) which were very consistent with it humour and offered many laugh out loud moments, sadly pretty much most of the humour in this 3rd film falls flat and it just came across as being both unfunny and forced. Plus I thought that some jokes were a little too dark and mean-spirited. While it does have a couple of funny moments sprinkled thought out but they were few and far between, especially in the first 2 acts (although the 3rd act is definitely the most consistently funniest section of the film).
Funnily enough the film actually works better as an action/crime film than as a comedy, in that regard its solid but as a comedy it wasn’t a good as it could have been. The script doesn’t really give the actors much to do when comes to their characters this time around (Galifianakis fairs a lot better though since his character has a pretty solid character arc in this one) and while it does have some other good elements in it but I don’t think it was written as well as it could have been. Another thing that I didn’t like was Ken Jeong as “Chow”, who gets a more expanded key role here. I thought he was okay in the other films but he did get really annoying here (if you hated his character before, you’ll hate him even more this one). Also maybe it’s just me but I thought this one was pretty tame as well. Other than the giraffe scene at the beginning, it wasn’t as outrageous as the other two.
Despite those many problems, there are a few things I did like about the film. While I did think that the script he co-wrote for the film was pretty average but I must admit that I thought that Todd Phillips did a pretty good job with his direction. Usually most comedies are directed in a rather standard and straight forward way but the thing I like about Phillips is that he gives his films a cinematic visual quality to them that you really wouldn’t expect to find in a comedy (I would really like to see him tackle a thriller or an action film next). There are some really good scenes and action set pieces that I thought were quite well handled. Plus it helps that Phillips has a good cinematographer on hand with Lawrence Sher, who did a great job I must say. Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms and Zach Galifianakis all did a solid job once again in their roles. I must admit that I didn’t like Galifianakis’s take on “Alan” for this one in the beginning cause he acted like an arsehole for most of it (even though there is a pretty good reason for that) but I did really like the transformation that his character goes through during the course of the film and won over by him in the end. While supporting cast aren’t given much to do but they make the most of their roles nonetheless.
I quite enjoyed John Goodman as the film’s villain “Marshall”. Even though he is basically the playing a character that’s quite similar to Paul Giamati’s role in the 2nd film, he does a solid job nonetheless. Also it was really nice to Heather Graham as “Jade” again even it’s really no more than an extended cameo (seriously what fountain of youth has Graham been drinking from, she doesn’t aged a day). One thing that really surprised most about the film is has not one but two really effectively heart-warming moments, interestingly they both just happen to involve the character of “Alan”. I spoil what they are but you’ll know what I mean when you see them (although I will say that one involves a character we haven’t seen since the 1st film). Plus the soundtrack was great (Phillips knows how to pick songs for his films) and the ending was a great way to finish the film on (it was definitely the funniest scene in the film for me).
Overall while it is watchable and it does have its good qualities about but I think if THE HANGOVER: PART III had a much better and more funnier script, I think it would have been really good end to the series. Instead it just ended being a rather disappointing and average one like the 2nd film was, which is a shame. If you are a big fan of the series you might enjoy it but if you weren’t before, it’s not going to change your mind about it.
Review by Bede Jermyn