Sunday, June 2, 2013

Squalor: The Hangover Part III

Here's the good news: if you saw The Hangover II and wondered if you were being trolled by the film's producers into a money making roofie cycle, part three actually does find the Wolf Pack on a new trajectory. The amnesia shtick has been dropped, the partying has been exchanged for criminal blackmail, everyone participates in the film's events with a reasonable understanding of boundaries and past mistakes. The Hangover Part III opens with Alan (Zach Galifianakis) at a maniacal low point.  The accidental murder of his pet giraffe has caused mass chaos on the freeway, his father has died, and Alan's cross-section of issues not yet listed in the DSM IV has his remaining family on edge.  Stu (Ed Helms), Phil (Bradley Cooper), and Doug (Justin Bartha) are roped into assisting with Alan's intervention, and when they promise to travel with him to check into a treatment facility, they find themselves kidnapped and forced to participate in a crime boss's revenge scheme against the demonic Mr. Chow (Ken Jeong).  Chow has escaped from his Thai prison and sources tell us he's been in contact with Alan, his only friend in the world...

As Chow returns - tiresome giggle in tow - a seemingly simple operation grows into an increasingly bloody way of cycling us back down memory lane.  As we edge from a Tijuana side trip back towards Vegas, the film seems to want to trigger a good will nostalgia that simply isn't earned.  The Wolf Pack brings us back to Caesar's Palace, back to Jade (Heather Graham), returns Black Doug and flashes through a bizarre juxtaposition of Wolf Pack slow-mo from all three films. Between the gleeful offing of various criminals, we're also given a sentimental moment between Alan and "Carlos" - the baby (now a toddler) he carried around in the first installment. It's messed up, but tonally heartfelt and, thus, completely ill-fitting.  Many of the film's set pieces, though, may not be great fits, and the actors read as thoroughly bored by their roles. As they wander unenthusiastic from one antic to the next, the film dwells in a murky discord that's simply boring. Phil and Stu nearly disappear into the land of expository dialogue as Alan's behavior earns more than a few yawns and Mr. Chow has an uncomfortable moment singing a version of "Hurt" in a karaoke bar.
Hangover Part III is a little better than the second film if only because it feels somehow safer. That is, it at least seems like it's trying to be a comedy once again and not some sort of limit-pushing shocker. The mean-spirited grasping of Part II is squashed here by the sense of an ending and the desire to somehow redeem the tenuous connection between the characters. This time, it clearly wants us to like the Wolf Pack even as we struggle to remember why they were funny in the first place. If this film had arrived in place of that sequel instead of as a closer, perhaps there'd be a bit of room for redemption.  As it stands, the movie is far too little, far too late; much too bitter, and simply unfunny. The Hangover should never have expanded beyond the first film, and we'd all do well to make like the characters and forget the sequels ever happened.

2 comments:

  1. Good review. It's probably the laziest sequel I've seen in quite some time, and not because it even tries to do what the first movie did. It has rarely any fun or charm going for it. It's just a bore.

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    Replies
    1. Completely agree. Really, it never should have gone this far.

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