Lightning didn't strike twice for "The Hangover" film series, and it's definitely not going to strike again for the third and final movie in the franchise. Perhaps it's a case of the grass being greener on the other side, but at the time, "The Hangover 2" felt like a pale imitation of the original film, but it's still preferred over the disappointing third movie. "The Hangover Part 3" ditches the titular hangover and the comedic way the weary protagonists piece together the occurrences of the previous night. The same actors reprise their roles, but plot-wise, this could've been any other movie.
Two years have passed since the events in "The Hangover Part 2." Doug (Justin Bartha), Phil (Bradley Cooper) and Stu (Ed Helms) are enjoying quiet, domestic bliss. Fellow Wolfpack member, Alan (Zach Galifianakis), has stopped taking his medication. After the crew stages an intervention, Alan agrees to attend a psychiatric treatment facility in Arizona, and the Wolfpack piles into Phil's minivan for a road trip. Leslie Chow (Ken Jeong) has escaped from a Thai prison and gets in touch with Alan.
Well, what passes for hilarity in this film, anyway.
Much of "Hangover 3" revolves around Alan and Mr. Chow, whereas the other movies were more balanced in terms of character time (except for poor Doug, who always goes missing). Galifianakis actually does a great job of portraying a mentally disturbed man who just wants to be loved and accepted. It's really quite touching. Cooper and Helms don't get to do much in this film aside from chase after Galifianakis and Jeong, and as a result, neither has much of an identity here, either. The awesome Melissa McCarthy ("Bridesmaids") has a small role as Cassie, the pawn shop owner, but even her charm and screen presence aren't enough to breathe some much-needed life into this movie.
Unfortunately, I can only stand Jeong's faux "Engrish" accent and over-the-top gestures in small doses, and there is a megadose of him in this film. I spent most of the time tuning out his yappy dialogue and imagining long, painful deaths for the character. There's talk of a Mr. Chow spin-off, and my only reaction is, "Oh, please, God, no!"
To be fair, there are a few funny moments in "Hangover 3," but they usually felt forced and only elicited a few chuckles from the screening audience. The genuinely funny scenes were few and far between, and to reach them, you had to sit through long sequences of Mr. Chow.
There's a brief scene after the movie that rings truer to the franchise than the entirety of "Hangover 3" did. While I appreciate that they were trying to do something different in the final outing, the after-movie scene caused the entire theater to actually laugh. Clearly, that was the film that viewers expected, and that was the film that should've been made.
Since this is the final "Hangover" movie, the screenwriters weaved in some shout-outs to the two other films, and some characters from the first two films resurface. It felt slightly contrived, as did the return to Las Vegas, but it makes it seem like there's always been a plan — or at least an idea — for the trilogy.
Obviously, the screenwriting team was trying to do something different with "The Hangover Part 3," but in doing so, it removed the major pillars of "The Hangover" formula: a hangover, a missing person, and the Wolfpack retracing its footsteps to figure out what happened. Both "Hangover 3" and "Fast & Furious 6" are opening this holiday weekend, but please do yourself a favor and watch "Fast & Furious 6" instead. "Hangover 3" will just leave a bad taste in your mouth.
"The Hangover 3" is rated "R" and has a running time of 1 hour and 40 minutes. It is showing in 2-D.
Editor's Note: Be sure to check back tomorrow for our review of "Fast & Furious 6."
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