Hangover III is best watched when drunk
When the sequel to the awesome and fiercely original The Hangover released in 2011, only a certain kind of audience actually *enjoyed* watching it: the audience that hadn’t seen The Hangover. And since that’s basically no one, The Hangover Part II was a downer to fans because of director Todd Phillip’s philosophy (or should we say… Philliposophy?) regarding sequels. Someone should’ve told him that the answer to “How do you make a sequel as massive a blockbuster as the original comedy” is NOT “You basically remake the first one and add a horny monkey to it.” (For those who haven’t seen the movie, ‘horny monkey’ is *not* a reference to Zach Galifianakis)
While Philip’s Philoposophy towards the threequel may be independent of that towards Part II (and THANK GOD for it, you know?), the fact remains: You’re probably still going to enjoy The Hangover III only if you haven’t watched the first part. It’s not that the Hangover III is not a decent-ish movie, it’s just that it’s a different-ish movie… it’s not so much the annoying identical twin you secretly wish wasn’t born, that was the second, but more the really, really distant cousin who is cool only because of association with *you*, and would otherwise have been growing up inside a dumpster.
The synopsis of The Hangover III reads, ‘This time, there’s no wedding. No bachelor party. What could go wrong, right?’ Well, something did go wrong: They forgot to add the sentence, ‘This time, there’s also no comedy.’ Yes, the biggest difference between the original Hangover and it’s threequel is that this time, not only is there no hangover, there is also no drunken debauchery, no madness, no flashing, no tigers, and – I don’t know why this made me want to cry from deep down inside – no Mike Tyson. So basically, no fun.
Instead, what we get is a storyline in which Leslie Chow breaks out of jail and is on the run from a rival criminal (there’s actually a really smart storyline regarding who the criminal is and how he connects to this series) whose gold he stole. The crime lord, Marshall (John Goodman, in a uniquely unfunny cameo) catches The Wolfpack (Bradley Cooper’s Phil, Ed Helms’ Stu, Justin Bartha’s Doug and Galifianakis’ Alan) to catch Chow instead of finding him on his own, because, you know, international criminals who steal gold from Middle East Sheikhs are cool like that, since it’s only 21 million dollars we are talking about.
So the entire movie is then a Tom-and-Jerry chase between The Wolfpack and Chow, and just like the cartoon, it’s literally something we have seen a bazillion times before. It’s all pretty swell that Phillips wants to go ‘dark’ (WHAT IS WITH HOLLYWOOD THESE DAYS!!) and starts killing people (and a giraffe) randomly and for some reason thinks this is hilarious, but the problem is that as an action flick, there’s not enough action in the film, and as a comedy, there’s not enough comedy in it.
To be honest, The Hangover Part III may have even been a cult-ish indie action comedy had it not been preceded by two R-rated comedy prequels. But coming with the weight of the expectations from the first part, the fact that people are rooting for it to be bloody awesome considering the damage done by the second, and maybe just a liiiiiiitle bit the fact that it’s called ‘THE HANGOVER part III’, so people *assume* there to be drunken mayhem, it just fails to live up.
The limited laughs do work, mostly due to the ‘majestic giraffe-like’ Galifianakis, who is so insanely talented that you crack up simply because he has that face. Cooper and Helms do well enough in their roles, but their characters were designed to be at their funniest only when they had no idea what had happened the night before, and without hangovers, they are about as interesting as my repeated use of the term ‘Philoposophy’. Ken Jeong (Chow) gets the same amount of airtime as The Wolfpack in this instalment, and that’s the biggest failing of this movie: you don’t elevate a ‘Ramu Kaka’ to a ‘Lion’. There was a reason you cast him in a tiny role (pun fully intended) initially, and that’s where he belonged.
You’ve got to give credit to Phillips for going into such a different, unexpected direction with this part, and it may even have worked had he not forgotten that HE WAS MAKING A COMEDY. But where it stands, The Hangover Part III is a decent-ish action comedy that’s probably only going to seem hilarious when *you* are drunk.
Note: This review first appeared on Firstpost.com on May 31, 2013
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