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When your job is to take notice of every bit of advertising a studio lays out for their tent pole releases, you run the risk of being exhausted by a movie long before it's ever come out. This has been the case for much of the Cinema Blend staff when it comes to The Hangover: Part III. Sure, we loved the first one for its zany mystery of what happened one blacked out crazy night in Vegas. But the beat-for-beat retread that was The Hangover: Part II hurt overall enthusiasm for the franchise.
Still, I was optimistic that the third and final installment of this raunchy boys-will-be-boys series might turn it around by finding a fresh way to make the Wolf Pack unpredictable and hilarious once more. After all, I enjoy the leads, and this adventure—as I'd seen in the many, many trailers—boasts appearances from both the wonderfully funny Melissa McCarthy and John Goodman, one of the greatest character actors of our time. In a word, I was hopeful. So it seemed a good time for a GIF review.
WARNING: spoilers below.
We begin in a prison in Bangkok, where a riot is in full swing. But it's not our boys lost in the thick of this mayhem, just a stern looking guard who cuts his way through the chaos to find an empty cell and an escape route hidden by a "Hang in there baby!" kitten poster. A Shawshank Redemption joke? It's less than timely.
Cut to Zach Galifianakis back in the US, happily driving down a highway, jamming out to "MmmBop" with his latest splurge purchase in tow: a giraffe. It's the same giraffe seen on character posters and prominent in the movie's trailers. I know this won't end well, but the inevitable catastrophe is more gross that funny.
First the giraffe bites it, then Alan's dad. This is dark. Surprisingly, the funeral scene lightens the mood, with Galifianakis nailing stern-faced silliness as he delivers an absurd eulogy.
We're fifteen minutes in and I realize most of the footage from the trailers has already been used. This could mean the movie is dabbling in mystery box tactics…or that nothing all that eye-catching will happen for the next 85 minutes.
Finally, the plot kicks into gear with the guys being sideswiped then threatened by a growling Goodman, who demands they bring him Leslie Chow (Ken Jeong) or Doug will be killed. Poor, Justin Bartha. Looks like Doug will never be more than a plot device.
"OMG the McRib is back! Why was it ever gone?"
Good news, guys. Despite being wanted by a blood-thirsty gangster, Chow is really easy to track down.
Bad news, guys. The filmmakers clearly think the repulsive Mr. Chow is who audiences will turn out for. He has a lot of screen time, all of it awful.
No one is hungover, but most seem to be sleepwalking. There's no energy. Even John Goodman, who is capable of totally epic blustering rages, only hits about a 5 out of 10 here.
Melissa McCarthy brings life to these dreary proceedings as a cantankerous pawn shop owner with the hots for Alan. Their sucker-centric flirtation intercut with Phil and Stu's repulsed reactions are maybe the movie's funniest bit.
The return of Jade and baby Carlos!
Yeesh. After the movie's animal mascot was decapitated in the second scene, I should have expected Jade and Carlos' inclusion to be brief. But it is lazily looped into the plot, and its jokes are predictable. Obviously, Alan will accidentally traumatize this kid, who looks like a cross between those sad-eyed velvet painting kids and Gollum from Lord of the Rings.
Phil is dangling off a roof, and the score tells us this scene is very dramatic. Todd Philips sucks at directing action. His choice of favoring close-ups kills the stakes. Turns out climbing down the side of a building can be really boring. But at least Cooper is very handsome. Close-ups aren't all bad.
Chow is captured, but will the Wolf Pack turn him over to a gangster who might kill him? Am I really supposed to care? Leslie Chow is vile, unfunny, and totally lacking in charisma. Why is he—not the Wolf Pack—the center of this movie? How did that idea get past the pitch phase?
"It's funny because he's Jewish!" Ugh. To reflect the laziness of this movie's writing something something joke about clichés.
The end and after credit sequence tease another adventure that seems way more fun than the one we just went on. But really that's not saying much. While Galifianakis and Cooper manage to inject humor into scenes with small deft physical comedy and keen reactions, Helms falls flat, Goodman is insanely underused, and Jeong is just all over the place. I'd say this is the worst of the three, but honestly I barely remember Part II anymore. In about a week's time, I bet I'll be able to say the same of this one.