Movie Review: The Hangover Pt. III: The End- A Whimpering End to the “Adultolescent” Trilogy that has Very Little Amusement but Loads of Ugliness and Cruelty

hangover 3More often than not people end up learning the hard way that it’s usually better to leave a good thing well enough alone, which might be a lesson truly lived in regards to the quality of what can be deemed as The Hangover trilogy. When the exceptionally lazy Hangover Pt. II was released two years ago it highlighted the immense limitations of director Todd Phillips’ storytelling capabilities as it traveled a carbon copy of the first film’s intoxicated mystery and amplified vulgarity to different scenery but forgot to bring the laughs along for the trip. Now it seems the Todd Phillips created Hangover trilogy has taken to unintentionally embodying the stages of an actual hangover with the first installment’s introduction serving as the party, the dirtier and lazier sequel acting as an unconscious blacked out sleep, and the newest final part becoming a nauseous, unbearable aftermath. The Hangover Pt. III: The End promises the conclusion of what could have been a respectable “adultolescence” comedy franchise and after experiencing the third installments descent into darkness and bitterness let’s hope it’s a promise that is inevitably kept. Todd Phillips and co-screenwriter Craig Mazin (Identity Thief, Scary Movie 3) have tossed aside all sense of wit, surprise, and genuine humor this time around replacing those qualities evident in the first Hangover with sociopathic cruelty, foreseeable plot changes, and zero sense of amusement diminishing any admirable attempt to change up the plot formula. All the fondness audiences have gained towards the characters of Alan (Zach Galifianakis), Phil (Bradley Cooper), and Stu (Ed Helms) will be tainted in this final chapter as a mixture of performance idleness, poor script follow through, and a lens focusing on their purely sober qualities makes these three characters less than sympathetic, even bordering on incredibly unlikeable. What’s ironic is that Todd Phillips has gone out of his way to appease the vilest of criticisms towards his uncreative writing and yet ends up highlighting his true creative limitations by not being able to drift away from a familiar structure. Unfortunately for fans of the series and audience members hoping for a strong summer comedy The Hangover Pt. III: The End ends this less than comedic trilogy with a desperate whimper and through its mean-spiritedness becomes a barely recognizable thread to the humorous and delightfully ill-mannered film that started it all.

Despite the fact that this final chapter of the trilogy still has “hangover” in the title there is no drunken depravity, memory loss, or uninhibited antics involved as we’re left to cope with the humorless experience in full misguided sobriety. This script penned by Todd Phillips and Craig Mazin can be credited for not being a direct mimic of Phillips’ previous two films in structure but can be drastically faulted for being uninteresting, unpleasant, and most importantly unfunny. Instead of waking in a dazed and confused state the boys are soberly confronted by drug dealer Marshall (John Goodman) who demands they find Leslie Chow (Ken Jeong), the effeminate Asian criminal that messily connects all the events in the trilogy together, or else Marshall will execute Doug (Justin Bartha) who again misses out on all the antics. The Hangover Pt. III opens up with a sequence following Phillips’ man-child inspiration Zach Galifianakis as the selfish, unmedicated Alan as he unintentionally decapitates a live giraffe on his way home driving on the freeway (this is in every single trailer so this shouldn’t be a spoiler). No other comedic device serves as a more appropriate compare and contrast between this installment of the trilogy and the original since comedy is supposed to have a dash of surprise or a degree of the unexpected, and yet every single punch line can be seen miles away, literally and figuratively. This chapter of the Hangover is about as uncontrollable and volatile as Alan off his meds and yet also lacks the personality the first two installments had much like the missing personalities of both Phil and Stu this time around. While there are some minor humorous moments stolen from some side characters (most notably John Goodman and Melissa McCarthy) most of The Hangover Pt. III is just an exercise in wasted potential, exaggerated nastiness, and becomes a personal vendetta letter to the criticisms from PETA on using a monkey in the second film (animal cruelty abounds in this chapter). The script highlights Todd Phillips’ inability to complicate his films, either in plot or character, and demonstrates a lack of comedic understanding making the first Hangover a fortunate chance occurrence.

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As a comedy director Todd Phillips does have a surprising eye for some delectable filmic moments that he seems to capture regularly with collaborative cinematographer Lawrence Sher. The opening prologue showing a riot inside a Thailand prison is sheer cinematic indulgence with its slow motion movements and precision to detail from falling toilets, burning paper, and intense fights. However, these moments of visual expertise are merely distractions from the overall mess The Hangover Pt. III becomes since those cinematic qualities are never utilized to compliment the story or heighten a particular visual experience. Though Phillips might understand the appeal of a visual palette it’s rather unfortunate that he doesn’t really understand consistent comedic timing or sincerity of change within his own characters. There was a great deal of inspiration within the adultolescence chaos that was the first Hangover and yet that same director has lost all the unexpected humor, the sharp wit, and unbridled depravity that made it such a success. The Hangover Pt. III is a complete mess jumping from a coming-of-adulthood tale to a heist film to a mystery caper manhunt allowing the chaos of coherency to be the real mystery of the film. This last chapter of the trilogy seems so completely alien in tone to the previous two chapters that it’s hard to recognize it as a valid continuation or end to the series since most of the humor is obvious, most of the chosen character changes seem forceful, and nothing about the film makes any logical sense, especially on how it passed the development stages.  Instead of having an atmosphere of amusement this film has the atmosphere of ugliness as the cruelty and anger embedded in the writing and direction creates a repetitively dull and bitter experience. Perhaps the lack of debauchery, the absence of humor, and the undedicated mess of a plot is Todd Phillips’ way of kicking all of the unwelcomed guests, i.e. his fans, out of his private party so that they won’t demand another one.

Humor isn’t the only thing missing from this joyless continuation of the Hangover party but it also seems the VIP guests in the cast have merely called in an appearance rather than exert themselves in the process giving off the feeling that even the players here are exhausted. Todd Phillips has fashioned his script to put Zach Galifianakis in a lead position over the douche-bro personality of Bradley Cooper and the nebbish reluctance of Ed Helms that might hint that hilarity could ensue but that’s a promise that goes unfulfilled. Galifianakis’ ignorant man-child act is both overplayed and slightly amiss here in the final chapter as his portrayal of Alan becomes more focused on the ridiculous rather than the naïve making him seem less likeable as the film trudges along. Though the script attempts to give him the possibility of finally overcoming his arrested development it never seems genuine coming from Galifianakis and the situations, though admirable in attempt, come off too forceful. Unfortunately the remainder of the Wolf Pack have very little to do and put very little effort in portraying it as they sleepwalk their way through this film exuding zero personality and zero interest. Luckily some new blood puts some life into some more humorous scenes, such as Melissa McCarthy as a loudmouthed pawn shop owner who is verbally abusive to her mother and John Goodman who classes up the joint just by showing up. If you have a love relationship with Ken Jeong’s Leslie Chow then you’ll get more than your share of his obnoxious presence which means if you absolutely hate the character, a loathsome sociopath with no redeemable qualities whatsoever, you’ll practically hate the film simply because of his relentless annoyance. The lack of comedic performance is solely attributed to the script but there is something to be said for trying and that just doesn’t seem to be happening with a majority of the lead names in The Hangover Pt. III.

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It appears the comedic spark that was ignited by the original Hangover was a fluke; a product of its time and place that demonstrated that sharp wit could accompany uninhibited depravity through the actions and consequences of adolescent men. This formula and chemistry was so successful that it was purely copied for the sequel but instead made it dirtier, grosser, and more unpleasant when it should have been sharper and more amusing. Unfortunately the third chapter The Hangover Pt. III has left behind not only the plot formula and the humor but also the personality that made the first two chapters of the trilogy recognizable. This is a film made by a director that has harbored some bitterness over the years towards critics, fanboys, and animal activist groups and has given them an ugly, joyless comedy that has cruelty towards animals and people to spare. The most poetic feature to find in the Hangover trilogy is its unintentional metaphor of embodying the process of getting an actual hangover with the first installment being the party, the second installment being a muddled memory of the party, and the third being the unbearably nauseating aftermath that inevitably comes from an overabundance of a good thing. It’s hard to remember that more often than not it’s better to leave a good thing well enough alone but that is one hard lessoned lived and hopefully learned by Todd Phillips who has demonstrated that he not only has reached his limit for creative comedic storytelling but that he himself has tired of the franchise’s longevity.

Grade: D+

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One Response to “Movie Review: The Hangover Pt. III: The End- A Whimpering End to the “Adultolescent” Trilogy that has Very Little Amusement but Loads of Ugliness and Cruelty”
  1. Dave says:

    “nothing about the film makes any logical sense, especially on how it passed the development stages.”

    boom!

    I thought it was a decent review, you bashed #2 pretty hard for being formulaic, but bashed #3 for not sticking to the formula. I’m not saying this movie rivaled #1, nothing will. But giving it a D+ for a comedy that does make you laugh in certain spots is harsh. It sounds like you react to everything that #2 or #3 does by comparing it to the original. If you subtract the original from the mix and see them as independent stories about characters that were in the american lexicon, like captain planet or chinpokemon, you would have graded it better. I will say I was too let down by both sequels, but thats like being let down by boston bombings because it didn’t rival 9/11. Nothing will rival The Hangover because it was exactly what we needed at the time of release, a fresh new idea with a great ensemble, and its formula hadn’t been completely ruined yet. Its like if someone wrote the bible part II a few years after they released the first one, not everyone will take notice (I’m looking at you jews). Overall I was pretty saddened by the obviously overuse of animal cruelty as a response to the second movie, but I see the humor in doing it. I liked it enough to tell people its worth watching to give closure to the franchise, but will I spread the gospel that is The Hangover Part 3 like I did the first one… no.

    review of the review B

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