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The Hangover Part III

May 23, 2013
The Hangover Part III

The biggest, most universal complaint about The Hangover Part II is that it was basically a retread of the first installment, and it seems that Todd Phillips took that to heart. I think there may have been room to stick with the same general framework — reconstructing the events of a lost night — while actually hitting different beats than before. Instead, Phillips and co-writer Craig Mazin have taken a different, and darker, tack for The Hangover Part III. Yes, it’s dumb as hell, but I have to admit to laughing almost all the way through it.

So, we’re abandoning the whole lost-last-night thing. Alan (Zach Galifianakis) is as erratic as ever, and he’s been off his medication for about six months when his father dies, which convinces the rest of the “Wolf Pack” — Phil (Bradley Cooper), Stuart (Ed Helms), and Doug (Justin Bartha) — that it’s time for an intervention. They convince him to come along and check into a recovery center in Arizona, and the trip is going along fine until they’re run off the road and kidnapped.

It turns out that the kidnapper is the, um, “other” Doug (Mike Epps) who sold the wrong drugs to Alan back in the first movie. If you don’t remember this, there’s a helpful flashback, wherein Other Doug says that “Marshall” will be angry. And indeed, Marshall (John Goodman) is angry; he somehow blames the Wolf Pack for his own troubles with Leslie Chow (Ken Jeong), who stole a whole lot of gold from him. Chow’s gone missing since escaping from the Thai prison where he’s been since the last movie, and Marshall thinks the Wolf Pack stand the best chance of bringing him in. Marshall takes Doug as collateral — as usual, he’s out of most of the action — and sends the other three off on their mission.

More than ever before, this is Galifianakis’ movie and, to a lesser extent, Jeong’s. Helms gets a few nicely panicky scenes, but for the most part he and Cooper are less straight men than simply bemused observers to the destruction that Alan (inadvertently) and Chow (advertently) wreak. Which basically means that if you’re a fan of Galifianakis’ and Jeong’s abilities to go completely ’round the bend, you’re going to have plenty to watch. If you find they go too far, and prefer Helms’ more restrained style or Cooper’s dry, aloof approach, you’re going to be squirming a lot.

Me? I think there’s room for both, and I’m willing to just give this movie over to these two rampaging ids. And hey, there’s even something approaching a character arc when Melissa McCarthy — probably the one actress who can really go head-to-head with Galifianakis — shows up and rocks Alan’s world.

I’m not really sure what’s “hungover” here, and I can’t say this really needed to be made, other than to bring the series’ esteem back up from the last lazy outing. At least it’s something different this time, and Phillips manages to recapture some of the fun that he so effectively deployed four years ago.

Worth It: sure.
Bechdel Test: fail.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. May 24, 2013 03:11

    Good review. It’s fine if you are a die-hard of this franchise, but anybody who wants an actual laugh; you’re going to be lost. Way, way lost.

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