“The Hangover: Part 3” Movie Review

     Some of the better comedies in recent years include “Wedding Crashers”, “40 Year Old Virgin”, and “The Hangover”.  Whereas the first two of these films stand on their own, Director Todd Phillips obviously felt he could milk a few more dollars out of his characters in “The Hangover” and opted to essentially remake the original film in the “The Hangover 2”, changing the setting to Thailand instead of Las Vegas.  When I viewed the sequel a couple years ago, I wrote in my review the series had now run its course.  Well I spoke to soon, since Phillips and company went back to the well one more time for the aptly titled “The Hangover 3”, which attempts to cover new ground and actually changes genres.  When the marketing materials for this film came out, they were plastered with the phrase “The End”, signifying what ever happens in this film will ultimately resolve the story and end the infamous Wolfpack’s run.  I hope it’s true, because I’m not sure I can sit through another one.

     Characters are supremely important and it’s this element that “The Hangover” series has excelled.  I’m thinking many people (particularly males) watch these films and see themselves within the main characters.  Certainly their exploits aren’t simply made up.  I’m sure Todd Phillips and his writing team has based these shenanigans on real life events.  Whereas the first film was a bonafide comedy, the second film began to inch into more dark comedy territory.  With the third film, Phillips has made more of a violent action adventure in the mold of last months “Pain and Gain”.  There really is no “Hangover” this time.  All of the goings on center around drug dealers, organized crime, theft, murder, and every other type of mayhem you can think of.  It’s as if Phillips has thrust his characters into a “Pulp Fiction” type scenario and hoped to get those inadvertent laughs that come from the characters reactions to extraordinary situations.

     Perhaps if the events in this story were said to be true, like “Pain and Gain”, the plot of the film would be easier to accept.  Because we know this is purely fiction, the results often induce eye rolling instead of the laughs I believe the filmmakers were going for.  The majority of the film is just cruel and the characters snarl and laugh and quip “I don’t give a F” when people are killed.  As if we already didn’t know, Alan (Zach Galifianakis) is mentally ill and after an unfortunate accident involving a giraffe on the freeway, it is revealed he has been off his medication for 6 months.  Led by his brother Doug (Justin Bartha), the family conducts an intervention and offers to take Alan to a mental hospital to help him get his life back on track.  Doug, along with Phil (Bradley Cooper), Stu (Ed Helms), and Alan pack up and drive to Arizona where the hospital is located.

     Along the way, the group is kidnapped by a crime lord named Marshall (John Goodman) and his thugs.  The group is taken to the desert and told their friend, Chow (Ken Jeong), has stolen $20 million in gold from Marshall and he wants the Wolfpack to find him.  He gives them three days and takes Doug hostage.  It turns out Chow, who recently escaped from a Thailand prison, has been in contact with Alan and has requested a meeting in Tijuana.  The story from that point on is a cat and mouse game between Chow and the Wolfpack as each takes turns deceiving the other.  After the events in Mexico, the Wolfpack tracks Chow to Las Vegas where the final act takes place.  I also have to bring up the continuity problems in Las Vegas.  Like other Vegas films that have completely ignored this (“Con Air”, “Showgirls”), a vehicle is driving on the Strip in front of Caesars, makes a left turn, and is suddenly in front of the Las Vegas Club on Main St..  This is the least of this film’s problems, but you’d think someone would get the geography right if they are going to use Las Vegas as a location.  I also found it strange that no cops were anywhere in site during this scene that includes a vehicle plowing into a pedestrian and the driver loading the victim into his car’s trunk.

     You really won’t see anything new here.  The interactions between Alan, Phil, and Stu are what they were in the first and second films and with no new meaningful characters introduced, the proceedings seem recycled.  Melissa McCarthy briefly appears as a Pawn Shop owner, but she isn’t given anything significant to do other than share a sucker with Alan in a scene meant for laughs, but instead falls flat.  John Goodman’s role as Marshall is so insignificant, he barely registers as a legitimate threat.   Anything you may have laughed at was already shown in the film’s trailer, so all that’s left is a number of unnecessary scenes that I believe are meant to bring closure to the series, such as  Heather Graham’s character, Jade, returning from the first film in a short scene that doesn’t really add anything to the story.

     “The Hangover 3” basically boils down to two characters, Alan and Chow, which are both examples of too much of a good thing.  No one will deny the individual comic talents of Jeong and Galifianakis, but in this film their personalities  are so overdone that you just don’t want to see them on screen anymore.  They, like this series, have worn out their welcome.  I hope Todd Phillips is sincere that this is really the end, but a disturbing mid end credit sequence leaves the door open for another entry. Gasp.  GRADE: F