The Hangover series is tired. It was tired even before The Hangover Part II two years ago. The Hangover trilogy is the new penultimate example of where the first film makes a ton of money and the studio squeezes two more sequels out of it even though there is no story to tell. The overall impact is that the first film, which was so original and hysterical, is dragged down to the bottom of the barrel because of its two worthless brothers tacked on to it.
What made The Hangover (2009) so good was how it came out of nowhere. The major laughs and events of their crazy, drunken night happened off screen and the audience didn’t see those events until pictures in the credits. Brilliant. Then The Hangover Part II (2011) repeated the exact same thing, but in Bangkok. Just because it is set in a foreign locale doesn’t make it better. In fact, there were plenty of times when Las Vegas was more foreign than Thailand.
Now writer/director Todd Phillips unloads The Hangover Part III on us. What a superfluous nothing. At least the formula is different; nobody blacks out and then has to piece the missing debauchery back together. Phil (Bradley Cooper), Stu (Ed Helms), and Doug (Justin Bartha) are escorting Alan (Zach Galifianakis) to a center called ‘New Horizons’ which is supposed to somehow cure him of being a 42-year-old adolescent. Mean gangster Marshall (John Goodman) and his henchman Black Doug (Mike Epps) kidnap ‘The Wolfpack’ because they are searching for Mr. Chow (Ken Jeong) for some missing gold or something; it really doesn’t matter.
This is all just an excuse to get the old gang back together for the audience, set them up for more hijinks and shenanigans, and hopefully rake in another cool half billion dollars or so for Warner Bros. So tired. Mr. Chow has a much bigger part than past films and gets naked again, Doug disappears for almost the entire movie again, and Alan is that much more tedious to endure. Alan must have a version of Asperger’s Syndrome because he is still overtly rude and misreads every single social situation. This was so effective in the first film because it was so new and outrageous. Now it’s just a caricature of earlier success but just throttled to death.
The Hangover did not need to be a trilogy. There were never any cliffhangers; the story required no tying up with a bow. They brought Melissa McCarthy in for this sequel because her name sells movie tickets at the moment and the script needs all the help it can get even though she is just there to be a female version of Alan, which is not funny. Alan gets on our nerves and now they give us a double dose of him in the same scene.
The horse is dead. The search for easy money and lazy writing thoroughly beat it death. Cooper, Helms, and Galifianakis should turn their backs on this franchise and never look back. Todd Phillips, who scored with Old School (2003) and the first Hangover should stop plagiarizing himself and snoop around his old, dusty basement to find his creativity.
Stay away from The Hangover Part III. Everyone involved with it is just sleepwalking through it for the easy paycheck. Take a look at Hollywood’s Memorial Day offerings this year. There is this Part III, The Fast and the Furious 6, and Before Midnight, the final part of its own trilogy. Are they really that hard up for original screenplays or are they so risk averse we get needless sequel after sequel?
Directed by: Todd Phillips
Written by: Todd Phillips, Craig Mazin
Starring: Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms, Zach Galifianakis, Justin Bartha, Ken Jeong, John Goodman, Melissa McCarthy, Jeffrey Tambor, Heather Graham, Mike Epps