Getting a jump on a busy movie weekend, The Hangover Part III is hoping to remind people of the first film and erase the bad taste left in audiences’ mouths after the second. How successful was the film in doing that? I suppose “somewhat” is about the best answer I’d give.
Now, let’s just all agree that The Hangover Part II was garbage. Agreed? Great. So really, being better than that was going to take a very basic understanding of these characters and what made them so much fun for audiences in the first film.
To that end, some of the more playful creepiness about the Phil (Bradley Cooper) and Alan (Zach Galifianakis) dynamic has returned. The Alan-Stu (Ed Helms) rivalry is back in full swing as well. And then there’s Mr. Chow (Ken Jeong), who is up to just as many outrageous and graphic acts as ever. What started as a supporting role has evolved into almost an equal share with the main cast; and it’s definitely surpassed Justin Bartha’s role as the friend who continues to get held for ransom.
Also gone from the second film, (appropriately #2 in the series), is the offshore location. Aside from an opening scene which explains how Mr. Chow gets back to the states, all of the action takes place much closer to home. This helps the script focus on the interplay between the characters, rather than childish setups of cultural misunderstandings.
Speaking of the script, it also calls back many characters from the first film that were absent from the sequel. Like most franchises, it would behoove audiences to have seen the previous works to fully engage with the current film (seriously though, you can skip the second one if you haven’t already seen it). Some of the returning characters are fun to revisit, others not so much; but at least the screenwriters seemed to be trying this time around.
It’s not all sunshine and roses, though. While this was a better balance of danger versus comedy than Part II, there are still a number of scenes that revolve around dire consequences rather than wacky, zany fun. What made the original so successful was that no one was really getting hurt. Even when Doug was held for ransom by Mr. Chow, there was never any real expectation he’d get hurt. That movie lived up to its premise of just being a crazy bachelor party gone wrong to the Nth degree.
In having to incorporate aspects of the second film, which replaced “wacky” with “dangerous”, the overall result of what I hope is the last in this series is a decent enough comedy, though nothing I’ll be eagerly awaiting for release into the home market for a second viewing. The Hangover Part III ties up the loose ends and brings an almost bittersweet end to the characters’ journeys. I enjoyed it for the most part but the magic of the original has yet to be recaptured so just keep your expectations low.
Remember though that you should wait for the bonus scene midway through the credits before rushing out of the theater. Following in the tradition of this series, some of the best (and raunchiest) bits are left for this segment.
The Hangover Part III opens in theaters on May 23, 2013 and is rated R for pervasive language including sexual references, some violence and drug content, and brief graphic nudity.