There is a certain poetry to the way that Zach Galifianakis adjusts his junk. The action itself is inappropriate in good company, but the laissez-faire manner with which he performs this task implies volumes about his character and The Hangover Part III’s outlying philosophies. Suffice it to say that this “is” inappropriate, within the context of the story at least, but it is also the only thing that could possibly satisfy the audience at this particular moment in time. Like Zach’s own dangler, we can’t be left hanging forever, and we all need the occasional massage in order to…
Alright, look, it’s hard to review a Hangover movie, okay? The Hangover Part III is a reasonably funny comedy, better than The Hangover Part II (not that that's saying much), but it’s about very little and contributes even less to the world at large. It’s a string of funny, sometimes off-putting jokes, and it deserves credit for evoking the comic spirit of the original film without just going through the same motions in a different location, something that couldn’t be said for The Hangover Part II, a.k.a. this generation’s Home Alone 2: Lost in New York.
The story sends the “Wolfpack” – Phil (Bradley Cooper), Stu (Ed Helms) and Alan (Galifianakis) – on another madcap adventure full of unexpected and unexpectedly dark twists of fate. Phil, Stu and the once-again underused Doug (Justin Bartha) convince Alan to go into rehab, but their road trip is cut short by a crime lord named Marshall (John Goodman), who needs the Wolfpack to track down Mr. Chow (Ken Jeong), who stole millions of dollars worth of Marshall’s gold. Doug gets kidnapped, and the mismatched heroes are once again forced to solve a string of bizarre problems together, based on a night of debaucherous binge drinking that, in this case, occurred four years earlier. The first Hangover is referenced constantly, while the second is mostly forgotten aside from a handful of throwaway lines of dialogue.
This is as it should be, and those of us who (like myself) did not care for The Hangover Part II can at least be vindicated that the filmmakers didn’t think it was very memorable either. The heroes are free in The Hangover Part III to interact the way we expect them too, replete with frustrations and unexpected macho bonding, without going back to the familiar “lost weekend” set-up that once seemed clever, but by now can only be called forced and trite. These characters don’t need to Dude, Where’s My Car through every movie in order to be entertaining. Giving them a proper challenge, this time in the form of the unbridled id-monster Chow, is sufficiently entertaining. It’s not a laugh riot, but it’s an enjoyable time at the movies nonetheless.
Any further description of The Hangover Part III would just give away the film’s surprises (some being more surprising than others), but the comic highlights include multiple tragic deaths, a somewhat disturbing karaoke performance and a finale that seemingly traps the Wolfpack in a never-ending nightmare loop, wherein their fates are sealed in a ceaseless pattern of horrors and regret. The Hangover Part III has affection for its heroes, but sometimes judges them – harshly – for their shocking behavior. One gets the impression at times that the filmmakers feel guilty for enjoying the abuse that Alan and his compatriots dish out, and even endure, and a modicum of shame emerges from both the heroes and the story itself as a result, giving the film just a tiny twinge of moral purpose. A very, very tiny twinge, but at least it’s there.
But one can’t help but pity poor Doug, perpetually screwed by the Wolfpack’s shenanigans and the filmmakers themselves, who never take the opportunity to let him contribute to all these various shenanigans. For once Justin Bartha hasn’t been written out of the film entirely, and spends most of his time in an uncomfortable situation with a very funny actor like John Goodman, but The Hangover Part III neglects to ever show them interact, or even give Doug the understandable reaction to his circumstances. “Not this again” would have been sufficient, but with the months and years it took to actually write and produce The Hangover Part III, one would think they have come up with something a little better.
One would think they could have come up with something a little better than The Hangover Part III too, but it’s still one of the better comedy sequels in recent years and at least it’s never insulting to the audience’s intelligence, unlike its predecessor. The Wolfpack won’t leave you howling, but they are leaving you nonetheless. Sing “Ave Maria” if you must.