Here we go again…the Wolfpack is back. Was anybody really excited about a third installment after that “sequel”? Could we really take yet another washed out copy of the first movie, with regard for the audience thrown to the wind as they yank the money from our wallets and run off screaming in laughter at us? Thankfully, The Hangover III strives to separate itself from the sequel. This comes with its own set of issues, but we are given a movie that at least tries a little harder to satisfy its audience – though it still lacks the magic of the original film.
The Wolfpack is on the road, but this time there is no wedding or bachelor party in sight. Stu (Ed Helms), Phil (Bradley Cooper) and Doug (Justin Bartha) convince Alan (Zach Galifianakis) that he needs to go to rehab, and they set out on a road trip for Alan’s mental health. Their trip is cut short by a crime lord named Marshall (John Goodman), who forces the Wolfpack to track down Leslie Chow (Ken Jeong). It seems that Chow has stolen several million dollars of Marshall’s gold and is on the run after escaping from a Thai prison. Doug is taken hostage as collateral, leaving the other three to solve a string of bizarre problems together, based on a night of binge drinking that, in this case, occurred four years earlier.
So many of us were totally disappointed by The Hangover Part II, and thankfully this final movie frees the plot and cast from conforming to the forced and trite formula they’ve developed over the years. This time the fellas are pitted against Chow, who proves to be quite the clever little villain. There are still a few familiar plot points, but this movie clearly has a mind of its own and a fresh direction.
While Part III isn’t exactly a laugh riot, it is still entertaining and a good time to be had at the movies with friends. Going into too much more detail would unfortunately give away the few surprises the movie has. If you’ve seen the trailers, you’ve already seen half of the jokes in store for you. Why do they give so much away in the trailers? I understand that they want to create a buzz about the movie, but do they really have too spoil that much of them? Some movies just don’t have enough jokes to give so many away for free, but I digress. The plot is relatively thin and in true Hangover fashion the jokes are awkward, dark, and usually raunchy – nothing out of the ordinary for this series.
There were missed opportunities for humor, including a few from the severely underused character Doug. Like in all the previous films, Doug spends most of his time off screen. However, this time they show him frequently throughout the film in the background with Marshall and his cronies, looking worried and forlorn. Having him there in the presence of the incredibly funny John Goodman could have opened up opportunities for Doug to have interesting and side-splitting dialog, as well as a bigger role in the film. Unfortunately, this was not the case.
Ultimately, it’s the writing that really let this movie down. At times it felt less like a comedy and more like a stilted and fumbling action thriller. Director Todd Phillips clearly wanted to step away from the second film, but when you have two films in a row that are nearly identical, any attempt to make a third movie stand out will only make it feel disjointed from the rest of the series. Although the jokes are sparse and the plot is thin, there is still fun to be had, especially if you just want to laugh with your buddies and aren’t looking for the comedy of the year. The Hangover Part III is better than the sequel (which isn’t saying much), but falls far short of the first film – making it a mediocre ending to a series that, in all reality, should have ended after just one.