There isn’t a Cure for this Hangover!

I watched Todd Phillips’ original Hangover film in theaters under normal, unassuming circumstances and walked out believing I had just witnessed a comedic masterpiece. It had the luxury of appearing just funny enough from the trailers and the fact that it was released during the time where the Apatow-esque comedies began to take way after something of a comedy recession. I loved it and believed it was one of the strongest comedies of the last decade. Its sequel, released in 2011, was, to say the least, a colossal disappointment. It featured mostly the same premise, with slight location and plot changes, and wasn’t assisted by creativity and curiosity in terms of where the plot was going to go, unlike its predecessor.

And now the inevitable Hangover: Part III is out, which is unworthy of bearing the franchise’s name and certainly isn’t good enough for the Roman Numerals in its title. This time the film doesn’t amplify something that was done previously only significantly better, but instead makes this a cynical, mean-spirited follow-up featuring characters we grew to like in the original but now sort-of can’t wait to see gone. The posters for the film boldly claim “The End” and my only response is “You’re Late.”

The film reunites Phil (Bradley Cooper), Stu (Ed Helms), Doug (Justin Bartha), and Alan (Zach Galifianakis), the notorious “Wolfpack” who decides that after Alan’s recent stint with a giraffe on a freeway that he needs to be taken to rehab and put back on medication. The four decide to travel to Arizona together, when they are run off the road by Marshall (John Goodman, in perhaps the strongest performance of the entire franchise), a gangster who has been robbed off $21 million worth of gold from Leslie Chow (Ken Jeong). Being that the Wolfpack were close with Chow, Marshall kidnaps Doug and demands that Chow and his gold be returned to him. Cue the barrage of silliness and misunderstandings now.

The main difference between the two previous Hangover films and this third installment is that this one takes an approach more in line with an action film than a comedy. I see something more reminiscent to a Bad Boys III rather than the final installment to a long-running comedy trilogy. Actions scenes evoke the quickest and most irrevocable kind of monotony and with a series that is already beginning to feel like it has been carried out way past its prime, this only cements it.

And if that doesn’t turn you off, the belittling mental illness subplot and the animal cruelty will likely do the trick. With Alan being off his medication, the character is given the most screen time in the film. Not to mention, Chow is given much more as well, and if we learn anything, it’s that these two characters were better in small doses. Alan’s dim-witted comedy and Chow’s drug-related witticisms were at one time fun and fresh, but now, stale and flavorless. Furthermore, this is by far one of the most aggressive Hangover pictures in terms of what it portrays as comedy. It must be something of record that a one-hundred minute mainstream movies features the decapitation of a giraffe, the smothering of a rooster, and the poisoning of two dogs in an attempt to create humor. It’s a sick, deplorable tactic that Phillips, who has shown his talent for giving characters something fun to talk about, uses in order to drum up either controversy or laughs or both.

Had the original Hangover stood on its own, not possessing sequels of lesser quality leaching off its name, it could’ve very well become a classic in the next several years. Not only that, it could’ve been seen as a studio marvel, one that didn’t need to “push the envelope” with sequels and redundant attempts to break taboos. Alas, it is too late and it’s a shame the untold millions the previous sequel grossed and the final installment will inevitably gross are put to two lesser films. I end with the the encompassing hope that the taglines for this film prove prophetic.

Grade: D+

Reviewed by Steve Pulaski

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