They should have just made the first film and been done with it.
“The Hangover Part 3” drops the format of the previous two films and this time puts the three main characters, Phil played by Bradley Cooper, Stu, played by Ed Helms and Alan, played by Zach Galifianakis, into something entirely different. Gone is the plot of a bachelor party taken way too far. Instead, this time around the screen writers created an action-comedy it seems. Alan, who is for the most part a child in a man’s body, is off his medication and the rest of the cast, including the fourth character in the group who gets very little screen time, Doug, played by Justin Bartha, wants to take him to a rehab center.
As the four begin a road trip to take Alan to rehab, they come under attack from a newcomer to the series named Marshall, played by John Goodman, who knows about the group’s affiliation with the international criminal Mr. Chow, played by Ken Jeong. Because Chow stole from Marshall, Marshall takes Doug and says he will kill him unless Stu, Phil and Alan can capture Mr. Chow, setting up another trade-off scenario similar to the end of the first film.
When the second “Hangover” movie was released in theaters, it was met with criticism, that its plot was a carbon copy of the first film. While true, maybe that was OK, because the new plot they introduce just goes nowhere. Instead of revealing things that were shocking and unexpected in a mystery which adds to the comedy, the plot moves from place to place as if director and writer Todd Phillips was making it up as he went along.
In my review of “The Hangover Part 2,” I said that despite the plot being a retread of the original, it still wasn’t that bad since it made me laugh. This film isn’t that great either, but this time it’s not funny. There weren’t many solid jokes that delivered laughs. Instead, this time there seemed to be more sight gags with Alan.
What really hurts the movie is the actors didn’t appear to be fully invested in it. There are many points where it felt like the cast, especially Cooper and Helms, were just phoning it in. There isn’t as much of the chemistry between them like there was in the first movie, where the three leads play off each other well with the humor.
Instead, all this one really offers is Alan doing something stupid and ridiculous and having the different reaction shots from Phil and Stu. Galifianakis also, whether from director or himself, decides to play Alan differently too. Before, Alan just seemed to be a comedic bumbler, but in this “Hangover” he just comes off as a jerk, especially to Stu. This wouldn’t be the worst thing, however, it just isn’t funny.
One of the bright spots to the flick is Goodman as Marshall. The veteran actor really commands the screen when he’s on and has the most energetic performance.
Unfortunately, he is heavily under-used. On the other hand, we get way too much screen time out of another actor, Ken Jeong, who’s schtick, especially in these movies, is just getting old and tiring.
It was obvious that this series was running on empty by the time “The Hangover Part 3” was made. The first one is still one of the best comedies from the past five years, yet that should have been the only one. The first film was lightning in a bottle, and the creators could never recapture that.
The movie isn’t devoid of any laughs at all, however, there aren’t any major funny scenes and anything that can really give a good laugh are few and far in between. It’s not the worst comedy out there, but this series deserved a better ending. “The Hangover Part 3” scrapes by at a 2 out of 5.
This review was first published in the May 24, 2013 issue of the Wahpeton Daily News.