Thursday, May 23, 2013

Review: The Hangover Part III (2013)

The Hangover Part III (2013)

After the last Hangover movie turned out to be good, but disappointing, I suggested that the series change things up for the third film rather than continue to copy the first. I should've been more careful with that suggestion, adding a "...but make sure it's still good." Writer/director Todd Phillips has thrown the baby out with the bathwater, turning in a movie that's nowhere near as laugh-out-loud funny as the last two. I still like to watch these characters, and I did have more than a few chuckles (and an enormous belly-laugh at the end), that's not enough when compared to the first film and even the second. The magic of the original was that it took raunchy humor and imbued it with heart, elevating it to what I feel is one of this generation's classic comedies, and this one lost that... but not in the way you're probably thinking.

While my problem with the last movie was that it lost the heart and simply threw gross-out gags at the screen, here it's the shock value that's gone. Outside of the ending, the gags here aren't anywhere close to raunchy, shocking, or "dangerous", with the worst it gets being a scene where Alan hands a woman a lollipop that had been in his mouth and she starts licking it seductively. (This is treated as one of the big gags here.) Here, it feels as though they were trying to be crazy and twisted, but instead it just feels weak. This film would probably require fewer edits than the other two to air on TV. When I watch a sequel to The Hangover, I expect to see some sick shit, and here they had ample opportunity to do so with the Tijuana setting in the first half of the film. Tijuana is a city legendary for both debauchery and crime, with prostitution, donkey shows, drug cartels, and more. One scene involved the main characters being forced to break into a mansion; I believed that it was gonna turn out to be owned by a cartel boss. Instead (minor spoiler alert), it turns out that the film's chief villain (John Goodman as a very American gangster) owns it, and now the heroes have to go back to Vegas, where they proceed to do little in the way of truly outrageous stuff. There was so much opportunity to shock me and throw good taste to the wind, never capitalized upon. This is a Hangover movie set in Tijuana! How did they not come up with anything beyond bad karaoke?

The silver lining to this film was the acting. I still bought into the camaraderie between Cooper, Helms, and Galifianakis, but the standouts were John Goodman and Ken Jeong. Goodman was pretty much playing his character from The Big Lebowski, but that was hardly a bad thing; Lebowski is a damn funny movie, one of the best comedies I've ever seen, and Goodman's Walter was a big part of that, so I enjoyed seeing him bring that to the screen here. Jeong, meanwhile, was a blast as Chow, the guy who the Wolf Pack is trying to bring to Goodman, delivering a lot of the film's funniest moments. I love this guy on Community, and these films prove that he can play a lot more than Señor Chang.

Oh, and the ending... take my word on this. If you do see this movie, stay through the credits. The stinger they put in felt like the old Hangover that I know and love. It was absolutely, gut-bustingly hysterical. I don't want to ruin it, but trust me.

Score: 2 out of 5

This is the worst film in the series, and the first one that I can say I did not truly enjoy from start to finish. It's got some good moments, but unless you're a diehard Hangover fanatic, save your money.

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