‘Hangover III’ a dull headache

By Frank Ruggiero (frank@mountaintimes.com)

Article Published: May. 29, 2013 | Modified: May. 29, 2013
‘Hangover III’ a dull headache

From left, Bradley Cooper, Zach Galifianakis and Ed Helms star in 'The Hangover III.'

Photo submitted

The thing about a hangover is you can’t wait for it to be over.

In that respect, “The Hangover Part III” is a staggering success.

This third — and supposedly final — entry in director Todd Phillips’s “Wolfpack Trilogy” actually manages to be worse than its predecessor, which is no small feat.

It’s simply not funny. “Part III” isn’t so much a comedy as it is a crude cautionary tale against unwarranted sequels.

2009’s “The Hangover” is comic gold. Unexpected, fresh and gleefully irreverent, it’s the kind of movie that can muster laughs in repeat viewings — even on cable.

It was so successful that Hollywood, along with Phillips (“Old School”), couldn’t resist making a sequel. This gratuitous follow-up was a muddy carbon copy of the original, simply — and even more implausibly — regurgitating the events of the first film into a different setting.

As if he felt the need to apologize for this, Phillips ditched the worn-out template for the third installment, instead subjecting audiences to a stagnant caper “comedy” that promises to tie up all the loose ends.

However, there’s no hangover in “Part III,” nor are there loose ends that need tying. It’s just a series of unfunny set pieces, featuring a cast that obviously doesn’t care any more and is simply going through the motions.

Following the sudden death of his father (Jeffrey Tambor, HBO’s “The Larry Sanders Show”), deranged man-child Alan (Zach Galifianakis, “The Campaign”) has sworn off his meds to the detriment of everyone and everything around him.

Concerned for his well-being, Alan’s brother-in-law, Doug (Justin Bartha, TV’s “The New Normal”), stages an intervention, insisting that partners in debauched crime Phil (Bradley Cooper, “Silver Linings Playbook”) and Stu (Ed Helms, “Cedar Rapids”) attend.

The only way Alan will agree to check in to a mental health clinic, however, is if the four of them — who he previously dubbed “The Wolfpack” — make a road trip out of it. They reluctantly agree, only to be violently sidelined by irate crime boss Marshall (John Goodman, “Barton Fink”), who’s looking for Mr. Chow (Ken Jeong, TV’s “Community”), the gang’s depraved and increasingly annoying associate from the first two films.

It seems Chow stole some money, and Alan is Marshall’s only lead. As such, Doug is taken hostage, under the threat of murder, until the gang can procure Chow. Shenanigans ensue.

As such, “The Hangover Part III” centers on our one-note heroes pursuing the most obnoxious and grating character in the series, who, unfortunately, has a leading role. It’s nothing against Jeong, but rather his character — the sort that’s only funny in small doses.

And that’s the central problem with “The Hangover” as a trilogy. The filmmakers simply don’t know when to stop. They wrongly assume these are memorable characters that the audience cares about, when they were never written to be developed past the first film. They’re simply archetypes, one of which has a bushy beard.

Furthermore, they don’t translate well to the action-comedy template. In abandoning the hangover thread that held everything together, Phillips means well, but ultimately makes matters worse.
Put simply, it’s a series that shouldn’t have been a series. Treat this hangover with the hair of the dog — the 2009 original — and leave it at that.

“The Hangover Part III,” rated R for pervasive language, sexual references, some violence, drug content and brief graphic nudity, is playing at Regal Cinema 7 in Boone. For show times, visit http://www.mountaintimes.com/movies.

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