I went to see the original Hangover in 2009 and I thought it was pretty funny. What I liked best about it was that it was an original idea in a sea of remakes and sequels. With The Hangover Part II the franchise joined the seas of remakes and sequels (it manages to be both at the same time) but with Part III it seemed like the writers were trying to take things in a new direction.
Three friends attempt to track down an acquaintance who stole millions of dollars from a gangster in the hopes of getting their kidnapped pal back.
They seemed to be throwing off all the clichés they’d developed within the franchise (body modification, strange animals… actual hangovers) and trying to be a funny version of Taken, but it just didn’t work for me. Part of the problem was the annoying Chow character and the rest of the problem was that it just wasn’t funny.
They did keep some parts of the original premise. Phil (Bradley Cooper), Stu (Ed Helms), and Doug (Justin Bartha) are thrown together with Doug’s brother-in-law Alan (Zach Galifianakis) because of a family gathering. In previous movies, it was a wedding, in this one, it’s the funeral of Alan’s father.
Two weddings and a funeral?
Alan is clueless, self-absorbed, and behaves inappropriately, which somehow equates to a mental disorder that can be controlled with medication. No one really wants to be around him. But he thinks Phil, Stu, and Doug are his friends, so they’re the only ones who can get him back on his medication.
How the hell do we keep getting roped into these things?
They set out to drive him to rehab but are quickly hijacked by Marshall (John Goodman) a gangster who kidnaps Doug and forces the other three to bring him Mr. Chow (Ken Jeong) another often-inappropriate character introduced in The Hangover Part II. So they don’t have hangovers, but they are trying to find someone like they usually are.
MARSHALL: I’d kidnap Alan, but I don’t want to have to deal with him.
The plot is part Taken part Ocean’s Eleven and part original Hangover, and it doesn’t work. It relies too heavily on coincidence and requires that even the smart characters (i.e. Phil and Stu) be stupid enough not to ask some common sense questions that could have saved them a lot of trouble. Without the excuse of substance abuse to rely on, I just don’t know why they’d behave that way. Normal people in a stressful situation can only be stretched so far as an excuse.
CHOW: So we’ll break in here…
PHIL: Wait, whose house is this again?
Without the gimmick of no one being able to remember anything there’s just not enough to laugh at in this movie. Most of the ‘gags’ consist of something unusual happening, then Alan and/or Mr. Chow react inappropriately and Stu and Phil scream “what the f***.” And that’s the whole movie. A long string of strange coincidences, inappropriate reactions, and screaming fits. It gets boring.
Stu in every scene in this movie. His face is going to freeze like that.
The movie relies on us to find Alan and Mr. Chow funny, but to me they were always the least entertaining parts of the movie. Alan is needy, selfish, and childlike and we’re supposed to laugh at him for it. The problem is that it feels too mean – like making fun of a mentally challenged person. He can’t help it.
Also uncomfortable: laughing at the fat guy for being fat.
Mr. Chow, on the other hand, is selfish and inappropriate, but very smart. He uses people because he doesn’t care about them, not because he can’t help himself. Unfortunately, the writers seem to think Ken Jeong’s annoying fake voice is his best quality. They have him screech his way through most of the movie. Bats are more pleasant to listen too.
CHOW: I belieeeeeve I can flyyyyy…
ME: Ow ow ow! My ears are bleeding.
Another thing that kept The Hangover Part III from being funny was that it was violent enough to be unsettling. I mean, there are a lot of guns and people die in this movie. I can’t remember anyone dying in the franchise before. It just makes things too heavy to laugh at.
Don’t even get me started on the giraffe.
The promotional materials bill The Hangover Part III as the end of the wolfpack trilogy, and it’s true that Marshall the gangster provides a tenuous through-line between the movies that could be severed to prevent any future hangovers. However, the tag scene at the end and the fact that these movies are still making buckets of money lead me to suspect that this isn’t the last we’ll see of the wolfpack. I never thought I’d say this, but if they’re going to make more I hope they go back to rehashing the old formula because this one’s a dud.