By Sandra Kraisirideja
Darker and more violent than its predecessors, “The Hangover Part III” is a fitting end to the franchise.
Directed by Todd Phillips, the third film reunites cast members Bradley Cooper, Ed Hems, Zach Galifianakis, Justin Bartha and Ken Jeong for another calamitous adventure along with new cast members John Goodman and Melissa McCarthy. Phillips co-wrote the script with Craig Mazin, who he also worked with on “The Hangover Part II.”
McCarthy is uncredited during the film’s opening sequence but her casting is absolutely genius. Who else could play a love interest for Alan (Galifianakis) and pull it off so beautifully?
In the film’s first 10 minutes Phillips demonstrates just how far he’s willing to go in this final chapter. The scene has been hinted at in the trailers, but not even the red band trailer showed the disastrous end that befalls the giraffe that Alan is blissfully hauling down the freeway. It’s not pretty.
The tone of “The Hangover Part III” is much darker than the previous two films yet this does feell like a natural progression given everything that Phillips has put these characters through. “Part II” ramped up Phillips’ twisted sense of humor and “Part III” offers more of the same except people die this time around.
One of the biggest complaints about “The Hangover Part II” was that it was too much like the first movie. I agree that the plot followed the course of the first one but I didn’t mind since I was such a fan of “The Hangover” and was just happy to see the characters again. Phillips and Mazin may have taken those criticisms to heart because Part III takes very little from the previous two films in terms of plot and story development. It felt like it’s own movie that just happened to have the characters from “The Hangover” and much of the plot is driven by events and circumstances that were developed over the course of the two films.
There is always a reason why the Wolf Pack finds themselves together and this time it’s a road trip to Arizona to check Alan into a facility to help address his mental issues. On the way the group is hijacked by a ruthless drug dealer named Marshall (Goodman) who forces them to search for Leslie Chow (Jeong), who stole $21 million in gold bars from him back when the Wolf Pack first went to Las Vegas.
Phillips uses a clever flashback to remind the audience that Marshall was referenced in “The Hangover,” but never shown. I am curious to know if Phillips had plans for this Marshall character all along or if it was just convenient that he remembered him while writing the script for Part III.
Phillips was lucky to get Goodman to play such a small role. He’s terrific even though he has just a small amount of screen time.
The search for Chow doesn’t take long and once Alan, Phil (Cooper) and Stu (Helms) find him down in Tijuana the movie turns violent. Surprisingly this movie isn’t about the Wolf Pack as much as it’s about Chow. Jeong gets more screen time than in the previous films or any other previous film he’s been in for that matter and he does a great job.
Chow is awful, obnoxious and sadistic but he is larger-than-life, iconic character who really comes into his own. I could see a direct-to-video spin-off of “The Hangover” franchise that is just about Chow and his exploits.
There’s a brief exchange between Alan and Chow that sums up the entire premise of the franchise:
Alan, somberly: “When we get together bad things happen and people get hurt.”
Chow, incredulously: “Yeah, that’s the whole point, it’s funny”
While there are very funny moments in Part III it often felt wrong to be laughing and I, for one, am not curious to see what Phillips would do if given the chance to make another “Hangover” film. This movie felt like the end but unfortunately Warner Bros. will want to squeeze as much as it can out of the franchise. I’ll take this one as the last hurrah.