Review: The Hangover Part III

Director Todd Phillips, stars Bradley Cooper, Zach Galifianakis and Ed Helms make a trilogy of The Hangover. This time the gang hit the road to take Alan (Galifianakis) to a psychiatric hospital in Mexico. En route they’re accosted by a man (John Goodman) who forces the ‘Wolf Pack’ to track down Mr. Chow (Ken Jeong), in possession of $21 million.

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The original The Hangover was a breath of fresh air as a big, brash comedy that relished its excesses in outrageousness and location. The first sequel tried to recapture the magic, make some kind of conceptual comedy prank, or perhaps both by essentially remaking The Hangover from start to finish but failed to truly match the spirit of its predecessor. Here director Todd Phillips jettisons the formula, with nary a literal hangover to be found anywhere. But in replacing the earlier film’s memory loss hijinks with a rote manhunt caper, The Hangover Part III squanders its opportunity to shock and surprise its audience.

Zach Galifianakis takes centre stage here, and as with the previous films generates the most laughs with his awkward, off-kilter performance as the mentally-disturbed Alan. As the film opens the extent of his psychiatric problems propel the narrative into action, though they’re soon forgotten as the trio (with Bradley Cooper and Ed Helms doing little more than phoning in their characters) head off in search of Mr Chow (Ken Jeong).

The storyline does little to appeal, the Chow character having outstayed his welcome in the previous sequel and here serving merely as a means for cheap (borderline racist) laughs and to move the characters around – but the scrapes they find themselves in are generally neither sufficiently funny nor the stakes high enough to sustain interest in the slim plot. Misses the chance to either match the first film’s lofty levels of humour or make something truly different, even transgressive.