I will always have a soft spot for the first Hangover film. Critics and punters alike considered the 2009 blockbuster something of a game changer, but for me it was just a well written, well acted comedy film. I thought it was hilarious, frankly.
Where the first was terrifically nuanced, the second went down a slightly different track, bludgeoning laughs from its audiences more through shock value. While it was nowhere near as good as the first film, it still had its moments.
Both followed a set formula: a road trip, the ‘wolfpack’ would have a drink and then wake up somewhere they’d never been with blinders and complete amnesia… Cue hilarity and hi-jinks.
This tried and true formula isn’t there on Part III. For one thing, there is no hangover to speak of, unless you count the metaphorical hangover that is Ken Jeong’s character Mr Chow, who returns to haunt the wolfpack. Even if that was what director Todd Phillips intended, fans of the past Hangover films have no interest in metaphors. They want drinking, drugs and Mike Tyson!
While a lot was made about the gang returning to Las Vegas, less than half of the film actually takes place in Nevada. Even then there is only one or two scenes which actually take place in a Casino, none of which involve gambling.
So there’s no drinking, no gambling and no drug taking to speak of… One has to wonder why they even bothered?
Phillips tries to make up for the absence of shenanigans by focusing on the growth of the characters, particularly on that of Alan, the lovable (if somewhat damaged) bearded man-child played by Zach Galifianakis. Sure, there is some growing up done, but this isn’t real life. This isn’t Doctor Phil or Oprah.
Sure, you definitely wouldn’t want a friend like Alan hanging around everyday of your life, but for an hour and a half in the cinema you don’t want him to change. By growing up he feels neutered somehow.
So too with Ken Jeong, whose once fizzy, bubbly, mad-cap character Chow with his overly camp persona and his penchant for cocaine and fast-living is transformed into a deranged, criminal psychopath. I liked the old Chow. I want him back!
You could be frankly forgiven for forgetting that Ed Helms’ character Stu is even in the film, while the only thing I remember about Bradley Cooper from the film was his piercing blue eyes…
Wait, where were we? Oh yes.
In short, the film is just not funny. Amusing in places maybe, in a smirky kind of way, but never ‘ha-ha’ funny. That’s not to say it’s a bad film necessarily, but compared with its predecessors it’s a bit of a damp squib.
Idioms aside, it’s a good thing that the Hangover has finally come to an end.
Good for: People who have never seen the other two Hangover movies.
2 out of 5 stars