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Review: ‘The Hangover Part III’ impresses with overall quality, misses some comedic opportunity

Bradley Cooper, left, Zach Galifianakis, middle, and Ed Helms, right, star in 'The Hangover Part III,' which opened in theaters May 23. Credit: Courtesy of MCT

Bradley Cooper, left, Zach Galifianakis, middle, and Ed Helms, right, star in ‘The Hangover Part III,’ which opened in theaters May 23. Credit: Courtesy of MCT

First off, I never saw most of “The Hangover Part II.” It looked like a terrible, money-minded exploitation of a truly unique and awesome comedy. And from the thirty-or-so minutes of it I did see at a friend’s house, it seems I was not mistaken. I was, however, interested in how they would cap off the franchise, since I figured that these clearly talented filmmakers would want to do the series justice with a good final chapter.

Once again, I was not mistaken. While it doesn’t approach the original in quality, “The Hangover Part III” has plenty of good laughs and only a few cheap gags, so it does its job.

Departing from the established formula of the four-man wolf pack waking up in a daze and going on a mission to figure out what bawdy exploits they got into the night before, this movie instead has the gang on a riotous mission to recover gold stolen from a drug kingpin, played by John Goodman, by the annoying little Asian guy from the first two movies, played by Ken Jeong.

Part of what repelled me from Part II, besides Zach Galifianakis’ bizarrely shaved head, was that it seemed to feature too much of Jeong, by far the most annoying character in the series. And while Galifianakis is back to his shaggy self for Part III, Jeong is unfortunately back in full force once again, taking up way too much of the plot and screen time.

Also, there was one other thing with the film that really upset me: John Goodman. Or the use of John Goodman, I should say. The guy’s an amazing comedic actor, but “The Hangover’s” makers don’t seem to realize this, since they don’t give him one funny line for the entire movie. Talk about a missed opportunity. Have they even seen “The BigLebowski?”

But apart from this, I was impressed with the movie’s quality. I would say I got a good laugh about once every three minutes, and that’s not bad, right?
But apparently it’s my word against 73% of the critics who saw this movie, as it got trashed on Rotten Tomatoes with a 27% rating. According to the critical “consensus” on the website, the film is “less a comedy than an angrily dark action thriller,” as it “diverges from the second installment’s rote formula — but offers nothing compelling to replace it, lacking even enough madcap energy to compensate for its lazily constructed storyline.”

That consensus is really interesting to me, since all throughout this movie I kept admiring how in its action sequences the spectacle always took a backseat to the comedy. From what I’ve seen of and heard about Part II, the writers forwent laughs for big, loud chase scenes and indolent gross-out gags. Part III, however, sees a return to the form of the undeniably hilarious original, with renewed focus on clever jokes instead of mindless action. But it’s very possible I’m just deluded, as I’m sure any of those pompous critics would happily tell me.

And as for the storyline, sure, I’ll grant that it didn’t blow me away its originality and freshness like the original “Hangover” did, but I disagree that it lacked energy. Comedies like this use trite storylines as just a clothesline to hang jokes off of all the time, and I could care less as long as those jokes are consistently funny, which they were in this movie. And it sounded like most of the theater audience agreed with me, as there was plenty of uproarious laughter all throughout the film.

So if you’re in the mood for a modest comedy with a little raunch, I suggest checking this flick out.

Grade: B- 

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