Everybody knows about, and has most likely seen, The Hangover. It dropped out of nowhere to become the highest grossing R-rated comedy of all-time. It is beloved across the globe and successfully launched the careers of four actors. Whilst the series suffered a massive set-back with the second film, Warner Brothers and Todd Phillips have brought the franchise back for one final entry, this time giving it a fresh story and a darker tone. But is that enough to save the franchise some face?
The Hangover Part III opens with Chow escaping his Bangkok prison, following his arrest at the end of the second film. Back in Los Angeles, The Wolfpack have decided that Alan needs help after he closes down a freeway due to his stupidity. The boys go on a semi-roadtrip with Alan, with the plan being to take him to a care facility in Arizona. Plans get interrupted though when mob boss Marshall (John Goodman) kidnaps Doug and tells the pack that Chow is in America and he has his money. Marshall gives them 3 days to find and capture Chow or Doug will die.
The plot is both good and bad. It is completely contrived, the writing is frequently lazy and the film unfolds unnaturally. However, Phillips and Mazin have approached the franchise in a new way. Part III is barely a comedy, instead playing out like a dark and violent thriller. There are jokes, but a lot of jokes come from the actors interacting with each other and the situations they find themselves in. The scenes aren’t built for laughs like the first two parts. The end result is bizarre, Phillips and Mazin have written these decent plot beats, however they seem to not care for the characters or the franchise. It is if they took one of their draft scripts, changed the character names and submitted it.
As mentioned, Part III plays out more like a darker and more violent than the predecessors. Comedy is pretty much completely abandoned in attempt to create an action film. The film is anchored by its huge action sequences, which consist of a prison break, a Las Vegas car chase, a mansion heist and a big freeway pile-up. Whilst it is refreshing, this approach is likely to alienate the films rabid fan base who are after more extreme drunk adventures. The action is impressively shot, whilst Phillips does nothing new with his direction, he at least makes the film “pop”. Or in other words, the film isn’t too bad to look at.
The Hangover worked well because of the likable cast, however over the franchise they’ve got increasingly tiresome. Ken Jeong’s Chow increased role in Part III will frustrate many. Whilst I enjoy the actor in small doses on Community, he is pretty much a lead here and it is hard to sit through. Galifianakis’ Alan also starts to grow old in Part III. For many he is the selling point, but Galifianakis as an actor is stuck in this kind of role and has been typecast. Everything he does outside of The Hangover, whether it be Due Date, Bored to Death or Between Two Ferns, is just another version of Alan Garner. Bradley Cooper is the only one whose career will survive post-The Hangover, Cooper was the only one able to get laughs out of me from all entries. Thanks mostly to Cooper’s charm, his character the only one I remotely cared about.
Putting these characters in an action film is refreshing and mostly entertaining, however Phillips and Mazin completely turn their backs on the comedy. The comedy, and the extreme nature of it, is why most will see Part III and it was a bizarre choice to completely ignore it. The decision will no doubt alienate many of the core fan base. The Hangover Part III is messy, terribly unfunny and strangely dark, but the film is thankfully never boring.