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Monday, May 27, 2013

Review: The Hangover Part III

Barely a Buzz

By Chris Sabga

Release Date: May 23, 2013 – U.S.
Rating: R
Genre: Comedy
Running Time: 100 minutes
Director: Todd Phillips         
Writers: Todd Phillips, Craig Mazin, 
Jon Lucas, Scott Moore
Cast: Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms, 
Zach Galifianakis, Justin Bartha, Ken Jeong, 
John Goodman, Melissa McCarthy, 
Jeffrey Tambor, Heather Graham, Mike Epps

It's almost impossible to imagine now, but Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms, and Zach Galifianakis weren't always massive stars. The original "Hangover" took the world by complete surprise when it was released in 2009. It remains a comedy classic. The sequel, which came out two years later, hardly felt original or fresh – it rehashed the formula almost exactly – yet, it still managed to be side-splittingly hilarious. "The Hangover Part III" brings back almost every major character from the series for its grand finale, but it isn't nearly as funny.

As the movie begins, Alan (Galifianakis) is cruising down the highway with his new pet – a giraffe. It's a funny sight gag at first, but it quickly becomes desperate and overwrought. It's impossible to suspend your disbelief for the scene's ridiculous "punchline." That ends up being a recurring issue in "Part III." The first "Hangover," even with its wild and crazy antics, was at least mostly plausible.

After Alan's giraffe gaffe, his friends – including his "Wolfpack" buddies Phil (Cooper), Stu (Helms), and Doug (Justin Bartha) – stage an intervention. He obviously needs severe mental help. It took them this long to come to that conclusion?

The Wolfpack hits the road. Everything is going according to plan. And then Black Doug (Mike Epps, reprising his role from the first film) runs into them – literally. This time, his boss is with him: Marshall (a menacing John Goodman) is looking for Mr. Chow (Ken Jeong) and strongly "persuades" Phil, Stu, and Alan to find him.

Their journey will take them into Tijuana and back to Vegas where it all began. Along the way, they'll meet Cassie, a foul-tempered pawn shop owner (Melissa McCarthy), and reunite with Stu's "ex-wife," the prostitute Jade (Heather Graham).

I smiled and chuckled many times during "The Hangover Part III," but unlike the first two movies, I rarely felt myself succumbing to uncontrollable laughter. No deep, guttural belly laughs. You know the kind I mean.

(With that said, don't leave when the credits start rolling – or you'll miss by far the best and funniest scene in the film.)

However, there is one surprising area where "Part III" succeeds: emotionally. After three adventures, it's impossible not to feel a connection with these characters and recall their wild antics with a degree of fondness. This final outing brings everything back full circle. If nothing else, it's nice to spend time with these people again. However, I remember thinking the same thing about "Cocoon: The Return" and it's not like that was a great movie.

If "The Hangover Part III" had been able to combine its gooey emotional center with gigantic laughs, it would have made for a deeply satisfying conclusion to the trilogy. Only a few hours after seeing it, very little sticks out in my mind. I'd call it a hangover, but I'm feeling barely a buzz. 

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