I should have known from the opening scene that “The Hangover Part III” was trouble. We see supreme bad guy/trouble maker Leslie Chow (Ken Jeong) running full speed ahead on his way out of a Bangkok prison during a riot, not a single hair out of place and nary a mild sweat caressing his delicate brow. The surroundings all point to pure insanity, with Chow seemingly escaping a place where even someone as off the rocker as he is can’t hack it. The magic, of course, is that Chow’s as much a menace to himself as others, setting up the Wolfpack members and viewing audiences for some whammy of a conclusion to the box office smash hit “Hangover” trilogy.
Of course, if something sounds too good to be true, it probably is. If you’ve ever reached into your mailbox and seen a junk letter telling you how important or valuable or exciting the contents are, you know that often, they’re just rubbish. And, sadly, that’s probably a fair classification for “The Hangover Part III.” All the parts that made “The Hangover” and “The Hangover Part II” work successfully are there once again, but a failing wire or switch or something of that nature rears its ugly head to the point where the whole thing sort of collapses on itself.
If you’ve seen one “Hangover” film, you sort of know what to expect, and the over the top events often have a way of being so out of bounds you can’t help but chuckle at what poor saps Phil (Bradley Cooper), Stu (Ed Helms), Alan (Zach Galifianakis) and Doug (Justin Bartha) have laid at their feet. But by this point it’s almost as though the Wolfpack has reached its breaking point. The performances here feel lackluster, the humor feels forced and the inability to balance different types of comedy throughout the run time is painfully obvious.
The film opens with Alan having caused a massive freeway pile-up, and his father Sid (Jeffrey Tambor) finally cutting him off for good. After Sid suffers a massive heart attack and dies, everyone close to Alan holds an intervention and convinces him to visit a rehab facility in Arizona. Alan’s only condition: the Wolfpack drive him there.
En route, Phil’s van gets run off the road by mob leader Marshall (John Goodman), who lets everyone know that a while back, when Black Doug (Mike Epps) accidentally sold Alan the wrong drugs (see “The Hangover”), it set off a really nasty chain of events culminating with Chow ripping off half a $42 million gold heist. Marshall knows Alan and Chow have been casual pen pals, and since Chow’s escaped, he demands Stu, Phil and Alan track him down. If not, Marshall threatens to kill Doug.
So, the stage is basically set, and you can probably predict what happens over the rest of the film’s 100 minutes. Alan, Stu and Phil locate Chow, he tricks them, Marshall gets angry, the trio rediscover Chow in Vegas and survive some death defying encounters before snagging Chow and getting Doug back. I’ve left out some irrelevant details, but in a movie like this, it’s easy to argue that most of what you see on screen is irrelevant.
Gone are the creative one-liners and occasional dry witted remark. Replacing them are gunfire, murder, poorly timed insults and finger pointing. “The Hangover Part III” doesn’t offer any character insight or development, but instead leaves a black mark on what began as a rather promising, albeit extreme, comedy trio of films that benefitted from different types of comedy culminating successfully via some good writing and direction.
Perhaps the major flaw here is that the first film was about the guys themselves and their developing relationship against the backdrop of extreme events, where as the third film is not about them but simply their endeavors. Director Todd Phillips isn’t quite on his game in the same way he’s been previously, but when a film drifts as far away from its foundation as “The Hangover Part III” did, you can’t point the finger at a single person, element or flaw.
The occasional funny moment does rear its head, but to be blunt, I can’t remember them well enough to offer more than that statement. Was it wrong of me to be ready to laugh as “The Hangover Part III” began its journey? Perhaps the limit pushing done by parts one and two gave the filmmakers empowerment to take part three to a new place. After all, it was rated R for pervasive language including sexual references, some violence and drug content and brief graphic nudity. This MPAA rating justification reads more like a “Saw” film than a comedy.
At day’s end, “Hangover” fans are probably going to find something in “The Hangover Part III” that will energize them, but if you were pleased enough with the first two films on a surface level and aren’t chomping at the bit for part three, it’s safe to keep your distance and leave this one for one of those nights where you really don’t have any other bright ideas for a film to pop into your Blu-ray player.
The video transfer is solid, with the film’s 1080p High Definition 2.40:1 image holding its bright coloration and clarity from start to finish. “The Hangover Part III” traverses the southwestern United States, so natural light has a way of working itself into play quite cleanly. Toward the end, when the guys wind up in Vegas again, the Strip appears with a vividness I fondly remember from part one (and from a trip there myself not too long ago). All and all, Warner Bros. has put together another solid transfer here, but it’s far from their best work on their best title.
The DTS-High Definition Master Audio English 5.1 soundtrack ensures you can hear every profane word, insult and gunshot with little struggle. I was impressed at the surround sound’s ability to fill my living room in a way I didn’t remember either of the prior to titles doing so, slightly richer and better defined. The audio works strongly for a film without the action or explosions that other well-sounding adventures possess, and it does so in a way that manages to offer some balance. Other tracks are French and Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1s, while subtitles offered are English, French and Spanish.
Standard definition and UltraViolet copies of the film are provided, as well as some goofy outtakes, a featurette on the film’s stunts, Galifinakis screwing around and some extended scenes. It’s a pile of you know what to those who didn’t find the film worthwhile, but fascinating to fans.
A Final Word:
Other than being the last film in the “Hangover” trilogy, “The Hangover Part III” doesn’t offer much that you couldn’t have picked up from the first two releases. I’m disappointed because I had higher expectations and wanted to see things wrapped up with a slightly higher class take than this.