A different kind of dud than the last one. The Hangover Part III avoids the retread problem that plagued the déjà vu feeling of the last one. It has the comically gory sight of a giraffe decapitated. F$&%ed up $#*% has never been an inhibition for this series. But there’s not any intoxication embedded into the plot, not unless you count Ken Jeong as Mr. Chow who is altogether too strange a maniac to matter if he’s drunk or not. He’s not the only part that’s strange. Too many scenes don’t bother to be funny. “Part III” often is primed to feel more like a thriller than a comedy. Bradley Cooper and Ed Helms try to get third Wolfpack member Zach Galifianakis into a rehab center, but get sidetracked by John Goodman, going heavy as a mobster who wants his gold back from Mr. Chow the thief.
The Tijuana scenes depicting the boys’ attempts to drug and transfer Mr. Chow over to Goodman are promising, who negotiate for the release of Doug (Justin Bartha, sidelined again) who is held for ransom. The plot steers them towards a Vegas reunion, which should have worked. It doesn’t. Even with all the Vegas “action” somehow it just feels lethargic. Cooper is the cool guy, Galifianakis is weird-peculiar, and Helms is simply dead wood. We get cameos from Mike Epps and Heather Graham reprised from the first film, but the screenplay is undernourished. Hey, who did Jade the hooker (Graham) end up marrying? That interplay could have been funny.
Showing the boys blazed and hammered the entire movie, instead of picking up the pieces in the aftermath like the previous titles could have worked. There’s a lot of could-haves with “Part III.” I laughed a few times (the Melissa McCarthy scenes are hysterically naughty and gross, Galifianakis’ songbird rendition of “Ava Maria” is a belly-laugh), but the laughs are too few and far between to start up any laugh riot. Todd Phillips, the director of the franchise, turned out a bachelor comedy semi-classic in 2009. But he has run out of inspiration.
100 Minutes. Rated R.
Film Cousins: “Road Trip” (2000); “Old School” (2003); “The Hangover” (2009); “The Hangover Part II” (2011).