For many people, the first hangover is always the most memorable. It’s a collage of fond, fractured memories that get retold at great length with inevitable laughter. However, the second hangover feels less like a party and more like a headache, and the third hangover starts to feel old and pointless.
This pretty much sums up the Hangover trilogy, the first was funny and memorable, the second felt like a forced re-creation of the first, and the most recent edition just feels old and pointless.
At first glance it seems like the Hangover trilogy is trying to follow in the mold of the Ocean’s trilogy. Ocean’s 11 was a hit but was followed up by a dud in Ocean’s 12 as the plot and cast was moved to Europe and the film was bashed by critics. With Ocean’s 13, the film went back to its roots in Las Vegas and basically retold a familiar story that worked with critics and fans alike.
The Hangover Part II took its cast and plot to Thailand and failed to impress critics, and so much like Ocean’s 13, The Hangover Part III tries to go back to its roots to recapture the magic of the first film. However, where Ocean’s 13 succeeded The Hangover Part III fails miserably with a forced plot and a tired, uninspired cast.
The film has an encouraging beginning with Alan played by Zach Galifianakis driving his new pet giraffe home on the freeway, which of course ends terribly for the giraffe in a scene shown in just about every preview for the movie. Sadly, the preview of that scene is about as original and as funny as it gets for the entire movie; in fact, the second best preview for the film was a Miller Lite beer commercial where Ken Jeong who plays Mr. Chow in the films brags to a crowd that “Hey, I’m that guy from that thing!”
Director and writer Todd Phillips quickly takes a promising beginning of a giraffe being beheaded on a freeway to a rather lame reason for the Wolfpack to ride again for a third time in order to take Alan to a rehab center.
On the way there, they are pulled over by an angry mobster named Marshall played by John Goodman, who demands that the gang track down Mr. Chow and bring him back along with the gold he stole.
In predictable fashion Marshall decides to hold Doug played by Justin Bartha as ransom. The gang tracks Chow to Tijuana and back to Caesars Palace in Las Vegas.
Along the way, there is a heavy dose of outrageous antics from Alan and the over the top sociopathic humor of Chow which serve as the only redeeming moments of the film. The scenes with Chow singing Hurt by Johnny Cash and I Believe I Can Fly by R. Kelly while actually doing just that from the rooftops of Caesars Palace is almost worth the price of admission.
At first, the idea of the Wolfpack returning to Las Vegas seems appealing and is summed up best by the words of Alan upon arriving back in Las Vegas, “It’s great to be back, so many great memories.” Unfortunately, the film is unable to recapture any of the original humor and plot that made the first movie so successful. Despite awkwardly dragging familiar characters like black Doug, Jade, and a now grown up baby Carlos, back into the plot, the script never quite gains traction.
The characters seem strangely unaware of the ironic familiarity of their situation and act as though they have learned nothing from their previous experiences. Which is why when Alan says to Stu, “We have been on a lot of adventures together, but it seems like you haven’t learned anything,” it seems like he should be speaking to director Todd Phillips instead.