The Hangover Part III
Director: Todd Phillips.
Cast: Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms, Zach Galifianakis, Ken Jeong, John Goodman, Justin Bartha, Melissa McCarthy.
SOME times with trilogies you strike gold on the first one, mess up the second one, and then learn from your mistakes in the third one.
That’s certainly the case here. The problem with The Hangover Part II was that it was a faded facsimile of the first movie, as if the screenwriters had merely taken the original script and changed all the nouns – Las Vegas became Thailand, the tiger became a monkey, the chipped tooth became a facial tattoo, the prostitute became a lady boy, and once again, Doug went missing.
Thankfully, the writers have wised up this time and found an actual plot that makes sense and steers largely clear of the old touchstones – it still references the past movies, but it doesn’t feel tired or give you a serious case of déjà vu.
Yes, the endgame is the same – retrieve Doug (Bartha), but in Part III Phil (Cooper), Stu (Helms) and Alan (Galifianakis) find themselves having to track down their old acquaintance Leslie Chow (Jeong) while Doug is held to ransom by drug dealer Marshall (Goodman).
A large part of why the first film worked so well (aside from the fact it was hilarious) was that its plot functioned as a mystery that needed to be solved. It kept you riding along with the characters because you wanted to know the answer to the riddle of what the hell happened.
Retreading that idea second time around was tiresome and felt lazy. In Part III, the plot is fresher and works as a thriller, as the Wolf Pack finds itself in a life-or-death situation and forced to embark on a manhunt that takes in Tijuana and the dreaded Las Vegas.
The cast fits into their established roles well once again, with Galifianakis’ man-child Alan and Jeong’s loose-cannon Chow once more providing most of the laughs, bouncing well off Cooper and Helms.
It’s the laughs people are really after and on that front The Hangover Part III mostly delivers. It’s slightly darker tone and some more unexpected sequences – such as a gold heist and a hotel penthouse break-in – detract from it being an out-and-out laugh riot, but it still has its moments.
The film was never going to recapture the magic of the first, but at least it’s an improvement on the second by being more interesting to watch and featuring a more intriguing plot.
If this is the end of the series, as has been proclaimed, then at least they’re going out with a half-decent finale.