Hangover Part III ✮
It All Ends Here ‒ Pleeeze!
by Glenn Lovell
Here’s a novel approach to following up one of the highest grossing gross-out comedies of all time. Instead of going for rude laughs, hey, guys, this time let’s try it straight-faced and frenetic, like a grim, south-of-the-border thriller by Oliver Stone.
I can’t say I laughed or smiled once during Todd Phillips’s “The Hangover Part III.” That’s not entirely true: I did crack a half-smile during Melissa McCarthy’s cameo as a love-struck pawnshop owner. But, overall, this mislabeled comedy is about as funny as Tabasco sauce on a paper cut. Instead of the penis and hooker jokes that, ahem, distinguished the first installment, this one comes with “T2” pile-ups and a body count ‒ at least four characters are blown-away “Desperado”-style. Funny, eh?
Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms, Justin Bartha and Zach Gilfianakis have re-upped ‒ well, sorta ‒ as Phil, Stu, Doug and Alan, aka “the Wolfpack” or the buddies who in I and II misplaced a bridegroom in Vegas and Stu’s brother-in-law-to-be in Thailand. This time, en route to an intervention for Alan, who’s “off his meds,” they’re ambushed by an apoplectic gangster (John Goodman) who takes Doug hostage and gives his friends three days to find Mr. Chow (Ken Jeong again) ‒ who ripped said gangster off to the tune of $21 million in gold bars.
That’s it for the set-up. All that’s left is for the three stooges to do riffs on their earlier specialties: Helm’s again plays the insecure dentist who invariably winds up taking most of the abuse; Cooper, who obviously wishes he were anywhere but in this movie, flashes pained smiles as the perpetually flummoxed straight-man; and Gilfianakis, who was hilarious in the first two installments, revisits the crazy-like-a-fox menace inspired by John Belushi’s Bluto in “National Lampoon’s Animal House.” Alan lives to bait the straightlaced Stu. It was funny before; now it comes off as sadistic, mean-spirited.
Ditto Jeong’s caterwauling, sexually ambiguous Mr. Chow. In the original “Hangover,” his high-pitched ferret proved a fun, maniacal departure from the usual crime boss. In the sequel, he graduated from glorified walk-on to more demented co-star. Now, he’s a caricature of a caricature, little Jimmy Cagney on helium.
Full disclosure: I think I did detect sporadic bursts of laughter during a showing of this film. But it sounded forced, coerced, the hardcore fan arguing with himself. “Is this funny? It must be funny, these are funny characters … The original premise couldn’t have degenerated into — this?”
THE HANGOVER PART III ✮ With Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms, Zach Gilifianakis, Ken Jeong, John Goodman, Melissa McCarthy. Directed by Todd Phillips; scripted by Phillips, Craig Mazin. 100 min. Rated R (for language, crude sight gags, violence)