Don’t get your hopes up with “The Hangover Part III.” It’s kind of hard to recommend it. Its comedy is dimmer than its predecessors. It seems as if the Wolfpack just isn’t as funny anymore; all the good humor has been sucked out of it. In the audience I was in, there were fewer laughs, aside from a couple that I’m pretty sure were stoned, being that they laughed at everything.
It isn’t as bizarre as “The Hangover,” and it certainly isn’t as bizarre as “The Hangover Part II,” so I think a lot of fans may have been letdown. Part three feels like it was made because director Todd Phillips, his actors and filmmakers had one last thing to say about these characters before they ended it all.
There really isn’t a hangover to be found anywhere in the plot. (Actually, almost anywhere, but we’ll get back to that.) Alan (Zach Galifianakis) remains as morally obtuse, socially maladjusted and spectacularly bearded as ever. When his father (Jeffrey Tambor) passes away suddenly in a dark and brutally funny scene, Phil (Bradley Cooper), Stu (Ed Helms) and Doug (Justin Bartha) all agree it’s time for an intervention. The three of them locate a mental health facility that seems like a good fit, have a sit-down with Alan to convince him to go and promise to drive him out there in honor of the Wolfpack tradition.
It isn’t long into the road trip when a van runs them off the highway, filled with guys dressed in weird pig masks, and led by the cruel Marshall (John Goodman). It turns out Chow (Ken Jeong), the cause of much of the havoc in the first two films, stole a fortune in gold from Marshall before he was locked up in a Thai prison at the end of part two. He’s just broken out, and Marshall wants Phil, Stu and Alan to track Chow down and return his gold, while he holds Doug as collateral.
Notice I didn’t say much about the plot. It’s fun enough, taking us from Tijuana to a full circle climax at Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas. We even get to reunite with Jade (Heather Graham) and Black Doug (Mike Epps) from the first movie, as well as Jade’s newborn, who is now a little kid. But the plot isn’t what sucked me in. It was the fact that Phillips and the crew returned to this material one more time to bring these characters to completion.
Overall “The Hangover III” is Alan’s movie. He’s essential to most of the action, he even gets himself a romantic interest (Melissa McCarthy) who’s a perfect fit to him sharing into his own quirks, and the movie’s misadventures ultimately become a kind of mental reclamation in place of the institutional one. The pursuit of Chow, the destructively psychotic yin to Alan’s yang, becomes a way for the latter to finally deal with his own worst impulses.
I do wish “The Hangover III” had been as ambitious as part two but, “The Hangover” will always be my favorite of the trilogy; it turned out dealing with the consequences of Vegas-style affair into an almost joyful adventure of its own.
Oh, and as for the missing actual hangover in the plot? Be sure to stick around for the post-credits.