The-Hangover-4 but actually 1The Hangover back in 2009 came out of the blue and became the surprise sleeper hit of that summer, and rightly so. It was an original, hilarious high concept comedy that only comes round once in a while, filled with surprises and memorable characters; I do honestly believe that it is one of the best American comedies of the past 20 years. It’s concept surely only lead itself to one installment right? Well, wrong. Due to the megabucks it made, the film quickly scored a sequel two years later in the form of The Hangover Part 2. That film, quite rightly so, was met with critically scorn; despite being set in the seedy world of Bangkok, Thailand, the sequel was essentially a beat for beat remake, albeit with a much darker streak. A Part 3 certainly wasn’t called for, but when your film makes over $100 on it’s opening Memorial Day weekend, you can bet it’s going to get a sequel. Initially, it all looked rather promising; the structure of the first two movies was ditched as a response to the criticisms of the second one and replaced with something entirely different; No Bachelor Party, No Wedding… what the hell was it going to be? Then, the first batch of reviews arrived. The film has received even more critical hatred than the second installment, no mean feat. Reviews claimed the film played more like a dark action thriller than a comedy and had little bearings of what made the first installment a memorable experience. This only intrigued me. For one, it sounded like a pretty ballsy move for Todd Phillips and his team to take this franchise and shove it in a different realm of genre and see how the character’s responded to it. I thought it was a great way of shaking off the criticism received by the second whilst also opening new avenues in terms of plot development. Except, the potential bold idea is wasted by a weak script, almost zero gags and little to no structure or threat to speak of. The Hangover-2

The Wolfpack are called back together when concern is raised over one of its members, the man-child that is Alan (Zach Galifianakis). having been off his medication for 6 months, he has become more insufferable than ever, directly causing the death of a wild Giraffe and indirectly causing the death of his father. With his family and friends running out of options, Phil (Bradley Cooper), Stu (Ed Helms) and Doug (Justin Bartha), embark on taking Alan to a psychiatric care home in the hope that he’ll come back a changed man. But en route the gang is intercepted by powerful mob boss Marshall (John Goodman) who demands something of them. Their old acquaintance Leslie Chow (Ken Joeng) has stolen $42 million worth of Gold Bars from Marshall, and he reckons that The Wolfpack are the ones with the best chance of finding him. For an added incentive, Marshall kidnaps Doug and says that he will kill him if the trio of Phil, Stu and Alan do not find Chow within three days. The gangs mission will take them across the border to Mexico and send back to the place that they never wished to set foot in again; Vegas.

Todd Phillips is a man who shoots comedy like no other director. There is always a visceral edge to his work that is often lacking in many comedy pictures. He is a very skillful director when it comes to atmosphere, one of The Hangover Part 2′s more positive points was the sinister atmosphere that so well achieved by Phillips’ choice of tone and colour.  Part 3 starts in a wonderfully epic fashion, and I so wish it had continued in such a vein. The opening finds Chow escaping from a maximum security prison in Bangkok, and it is madcap, epic in tone and on the right balance of action and comedy. The film  then quickly falls apart as we rejoin Alan, who has recently purchased a Giraffe. this gag falls completely flat; it is widely out of place in terms of the tone established in the first scene, it’s simply not that funny, and the VFX are just woeful. Alan’s antics then begin to grate on the nerves; the Galifianakis skit is starting to run very dry, but the plot is thankfully given a kick up the ass by the intervention of one John Goodman.  THE HANGOVER PART III

Goodman’s Marshall supplies the film with a much needed sense of purpose, and it is always a pleasure to see Goodman on the screen. But the script so poorly develops its story that you quickly lose interest or any sense of threat. It lets all its cats out of the basket at once; Phillips and co-writer Craig Mazin seem too over eager to express how ‘cleverly’ they’ve linked this film to the previous two installments that all of Goodman’s first scene is an over-load of exposition that would have been better revealed gradually. It would have added an air of mystery as the gang tried to discover who Marshall was, and would have allowed for some actually surprises to occur within the course of the narrative. But as it stands, we find out far too much too quickly and lose all interesting in the mechanisms of the plot.

There is a distinct lack of set pieces from a film that seems to be desperately wanting to be an action thriller. It would seem there are many possible plots at play; we have Alan going to a Mental Asylum, we have Mexico, we have a return to Vegas and the promise of another wedding. It never settles on a frame of mind and speeds through scenes as if it’s making it up as it goes along. It does not build to anything and we feel like we’re in the same place once we reach the end. It strives to be madcap but comes off as flat and un-involving. The only way it manages to make it to the finish line is through the energy of its cast, who can practically do these roles in their sleep (and sometimes there’s a sense that they are). Cooper and Helms reign in the madness that is Galifianakis, but are labored with repetitive lines of consisting of WTF’s and OMG’s. Nothing can quite control Ken Joeng’s Chow. Given much more to do, Chow works for the better and the worse. He certainly is responsible for the film’s funniest moments, but he is not a character you the-hangover-1particularly want to spend that much time with. The familiarity we have with the main trio and the sense of ease within the performances at least make us feel that we are in good company with these characters, who, as it turn out don’t actually react too differently in an action scenario.

It is never a good sign when you say that the post-credits scene was the best part of the film, but that most certainly is the case with The Hangover Part 3. Despite it remaining visually interesting, it simply doesn’t amount to anything. It is neither bad enough to be fun to laugh at, nor is it good enough to be truly appreciated. The gag rate is somewhat inconsistent, with only a few giggles to be had, peppered within the forgettable action. This is very much the end for the franchise, a franchise that is only four years old, but one that perhaps should have never gone further than the deserts of Nevada. What Happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas. They got that one right.

2/5- Playing more like an action-thriller that just so happens to star the cast of The Hangover, Part 3 is a visually interesting but wholly underwhelming affair with few laughs to speak of. A forgettable final chapter for The Wolfpack.