MOVIE REVIEW: The Hangover Part III


Film: The Hangover: Part III
Starring: Zach Galifianakis, Ken Jeong
Directed by: Todd Phillips

I would be lying if I said I left The Hangover: Part II with any desire to continue following the adventures of the Wolf Pack. The 2009 original had come out of nowhere to shock and amaze audiences worldwide, but the sequel and it’s thinly veiled redo of the original’s plot in a new locale simply did not work. The jokes were lazy, the crude humor felt forced, and it seemed no one could get over the feeling that it was all too familiar. In spite of this, the film rode the still-fresh success of its predecessor to a total box office take well over $500 million, and two years later the gang is back together one last time for The Hangover: Part III.

Completely abandoning the structure of the previous films The Hangover: Part III opens with a downright gorgeous shot of a prison mid-riot. Mr. Chow, whom you may recall from the other films, is seen breaking out of prison with little-to-no context to why we’re seeing the events that are unfolding. He escapes and we cut to the real star of the series (and central focus of the final film): Alan. In the time that has passed since the crew went to Thailand, Alan has quit taking his meds and when we find him things are hitting a boiling point. After a major event changes Alan’s life, the Wolf Pack come back together for their friend, and in doing so convince Alan to journey with them across country to get help at a facility in Arizona. There are no drugs, no blackouts, and no signs of a hangover anywhere to be found.

At some point in their journey, the guys are stopped by a familiar face and a new villain whom they’ve yet to meet (played by the fantastic John Goodman). He kidnaps Doug while informing the men that their lives are connected by Mr. Chow, and then gives them three days to locate Chow before Doug is shot. Again, no drugs, no blackouts, no hangovers. This time it’s life or death, and somehow Phillips and crew still find ways to keep laughing every handful of lines. Of course, most the humor walks a fine line between perverse and pitch black, but if that’s your cup of tea you’ll certainly find plenty of it here.

As soon as you come to terms with the fact The Hangover: Part III is not anything like what have seen from the Wolf Pack before you begin to realize that there is some kind of crazy semi-genius at work. Phillips has woven a mythology, however ridiculous, through a seemingly pointless chain of events and used it to craft a one-of-a-kind adventure featuring three characters in situations we’d never get to experience with them otherwise. He’s taken a universe that many wrote off as one note and opened it as wide as he possibly could, and in turn delivered a truly unique moviegoing experience.

Of course, not everything in Part III is deserving of praise. While the original story gives things a fresh facelift, there are a number of running gags (namely with the way Alan communicates) that feel tired from the start. His man-child ways, especially when paired with the similar antics of Mr. Chow, go from zany to annoying at an alarming rate. The plot also has several issues as well, but at some points you get the sense even the missteps are intentional to an extent. Not being able to understand Chow or his motivations is a large part of what makes him such an interesting character, and in order for that to come across there needs to be an element of nonsense to the story.

A moment of complete honesty: Reviews at UTG are usually assigned based on who on staff is able to see the film in question first. With The Hangover: Part III, everyone was available, but no one wanted to go. Even people I knew loved the original were too worried they would have a repeat of Part II (which would really be a three-peat of the original), so I volunteered to attend a Wednesday night screening for no other reason than to bring you this very review. Looking back, it was the best decision I could have made.

The Hangover: Part III is not a perfect movie, but it is a completely original idea executed in a fun way with characters we have grown to love and, in a weird way, understand. The drugs and lost memories may be gone, but the hijinks are as outrageous as ever, and the underlying themes of family, trust, togetherness, and friendship bound from the screen like waves of happiness pouring from a digital fountain. Even when the humor is at its most lewd and crude, there are silver linings (no pun intended on Cooper’s behalf) that make you fall in love with the characters all over again. You still want to be in the Wolf Pack, even when things are at their worst, and I’m not sure we will ever see a comedy franchise evolve in such a wonderfully surprising way as The Hangover has in our lifetime. Throw away all your pre-conceived notions and give Todd Phillips one last chance to show you what he’s made of as a filmmaker. It may not be what you thought you wanted, but I promise you will leave entertained.

Score: B

Review written by: James Shotwell (Twitter)

James Shotwell

James Shotwell is the founder of Under The Gun Review. He loves writing about music and movies almost as much as he loves his two fat cats. He's also the co-founder of Antique Records and the Marketing Coordinator for Haulix. You should probably follow him on Twitter.

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