By ANDREW LINK (digitalBURG) — If you want a quick answer to, “Should I see ‘The Hangover Part III?’” the answer is no.
When I heard about “Hangover Part III,” I thought, “Let me guess – Alan drugs everyone, Doug goes missing, and just as Phil calls Doug’s wife to come clean, Stu has an epiphany. Oh, and Mike Tyson and Leslie Chow.”
If only that had been the case.
The “Hangover” movies have been record-breakers all around. The first movie landed $16.7 million on its opening day, a Thursday, and won a Golden Globe for Best Motion Picture in the Musical or Comedy category, along with a slew of other awards. This was a movie on which principal photography took only 15 days.
Despite being plagued by horrible reviews, “Hangover Part II” followed the standards set by “The Hangover,” and became the highest grossing comedy of all time. It had the biggest midnight opening and an opening day of $31.6 million, also a Thursday, almost double the original film’s opener. The opening day for “Hangover Part II” set the record not only for live-action comedies, but for R-rated movies altogether.
Yet it won no notable awards. Reviews were mixed, at best. The kindest thing anyone could say about it was that it was more of the same, and maybe if you were one of the 18- to 24-year-olds who comprised most of the exit polls, “more of the same” was perfectly fine. Sure, it was the same story with a new coat of paint. Maybe that was lazy. Maybe it was arrogant. Maybe a little bit of both, but it worked just like producer Todd Phillips knew it would.
You should go into the “Hangover” series knowing that Phillips is the sort of friend who tried to convince the actors to be hit with real Tasers in the first movie to the point that the actors’ lawyers had to intervene to stop him. Surely if anyone could tell a fun, insane story, it’d be this guy.
And he really has told a few. He’s the director behind “Old School,” “Project X,” “Due Date” and “Road Trip.” He co-wrote all three “Hangover” movies and even made cameos as Mr. Creepy, the black-wigged man from the elevator.
There’s a problem with this résumé. That is to say, there’s a problem if you enjoy comedies about something other than fratboyish drinking or watching Zach Galifianakis pretend to be stupid. In “Hangover Part III” we’re presented with a road trip instead of a wedding following the death of Alan’s father.
Wait, let me get this straight: Phillips produced “Due Date” in which Galifianakis’ father dies and he also produced “Road Trip.” And “Hangover Part III” is a movie that begins with a road trip taken after Galifianakis’ father dies.
There is not yet a way to say, “Are you kidding me?” without interjecting profanity that completely encapsulates my reaction to this. Not only is the entire premise for the movie just a mash-up of other movies Phillips has done, but they aren’t even drunk in “Hangover Part III.” How is it even a hangover if – I’m not going to make my brain explode with semantics. There are plenty of other reasons why this movie was terrible.
Let’s make a detailed list of what went wrong with this movie: Everything.
The worst kind of comedy is one that just can’t make you laugh. It doesn’t matter how good the music is or how great the special effects are if the cast is just a bunch of cardboard cutouts riddled with apathy giving the most flippant performances of their lives in the most vapid roles ever conceived.
OK, so maybe saying everything went wrong was a little much. The fans wanted more Mr. Chow and Ken Jeong delivers the role perfectly as always, and with much more screen time than the previous two installments. He even asked his wife for permission to appear fully nude for that little surprise after the credits.
There is some truly terrible CGI right out of the gate. The window-scenery while the men are driving around is what I would call “80s-tastic.” However, the musical score is very familiar while still fitting.
Because the story doesn’t revolve around the men not knowing what’s going on, the plot is much more coherent. John Goodman slam-dunks his role and the main trio gives the performances we expect, but not want, them to give. The cinematography was fantastic, and as far as I know, the key grip didn’t wander on set and incur the wrath of a stray Welshman.
This movie was also not “Hangover Part II,” which is probably the single best thing it has going for it.
It’s hard to really pinpoint why the audience stopped laughing about halfway through the movie. They stopped laughing in the way an audience does after realizing that no matter how much fun they told themselves they were going to have, after 45 minutes of forcing it out, it just wasn’t worth the effort. The movie itself wasn’t opening that door.
It was just a little too serious for stretches that lasted a little too long. When the laugh queues were there, they seemed awkward and intrusive due to the length of time that had elapsed between them. When a “funny” point does crop up, it’s so ridiculously drawn out that its inability to elicit the remotest smile causes the scene to become downright annoying by the time it’s over.
Even if you love the actors’ chemistry that makes the “Hangover” series what it is, you’ll probably find that “Hangover Part III” just lacks that gusto that brought you back to the theater. There’s plenty of action and the plot is fast-paced, but it fails to feel this way at any point.
I found myself more interested in how Doug (Justin Bartha) looks vaguely like Paul Ryan than I was in anything happening on-screen. Everything that falls out of Phil’s (Bradley Cooper) mouth just reeks of “Whatever, dude. Where’s my check?”
Ed Helms as Stu also seems to be lacking the energetic performance that made the character in the other films, and we want more from him after his bad boy speech at the end of “Hangover Part II.” Galifianakis is so typecast that his performance doesn’t really warrant any further comment. The film leans so heavily on the performances of exactly the wrong few people that it becomes irrecoverably unfunny very quickly.
As far as comedies go, I think it’s very generous to say 6/10.