I’m “biast” (con): there was never enough concept here to sustain a franchise
(what is this about? see my critic’s minifesto)
It starts out with a joke stolen from The Shawshank Redemption, which runs directly into an action bit stolen from The Fugitive. Bizarrely, The Hangover Part III goes on to not steal again — from Dude, Where’s My Car? — the one clever conceit that made the franchise’s reputation, not to mention its name: there’s no hangover here, no mystery to be solved about the previous evening’s intoxicating adventures. It’s an odd choice for director Todd Phillips and his coscreenwriter, Craig Mazin (Identity Thief), as if they’d learned after the appalling Part II (which Mazin also cowrote) that they never should have made a sequel, so they decided that for Part III, which they also should not have made, they wouldn’t even bother to make a Hangover movie at all. Which must have seemed like a good idea at the time. Even though it’s like saying, “Let’s make a movie about professional wrestling, except all the wrestling will be real.”
I’m so confused. I don’t know how to feel. Waiter, this soup is terrible, but in a different way from the other terrible soup I actually ordered.
I have a wonderful awful feeling that Todd Phillips is going to wake up one morning and realize he’s been on a five-year bender, and he’s gonna be all, “I made three movies called what? And also Due Date? What the fuck, people?!”
So once again Stu (Ed Helms: Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax, Jeff, Who Lives at Home), Phil (Bradley Cooper: Silver Linings Playbook, The Place Beyond the Pines), Doug (Justin Bartha: Holy Rollers, National Treasure: Book of Secrets), and Alan (Zach Galifianakis: The Campaign, Puss in Boots) are on the road, but it ain’t no party: the other guys are driving Alan to some sort of in-patient facility where they think he can get help for his antisocial behavior and the wildly inappropriate stream-of-consciousness that passes for his conversation. They never get there, because they’re hijacked by bad guy Marshall (John Goodman: Flight, Argo), who has a thing with Mr. Chow (Ken Jeong: Transformers: Dark of the Moon, Big Mommas: Like Father, Like Son), the Chinese gangster they pissed off in the first film and also pissed off again in Part II; Marshall also has a thing with “Black Doug” (Mike Epps: Lottery Ticket, Soul Men), the dealer who sold Alan the roofies-instead-of-ecstasy in the first film.
Ahhhhh! I get it! Part III is like the hangover from the first film has continued for four years.
It’s still not funny.
Marshall keeps Doug hostage — Bartha must have a clause in his contract that he is to appear in the film as little as possible — and instructs the other guys to find Chow and bring the little monster to Marshall. Along the way to this conclusion, there will be a trip to Tijuana; another trip to Vegas; one bit that’s so ingenious I admit grudging admiration; one ridiculously funny non sequitur and another outrageous cheer from Chow; and one nice moment when it seems that — though one would imagine that such a thing would have been edited out — Bradley Cooper pulls a Harvey Korman and laughs at something that Melissa McCarthy, in a small cameo, is doing, even though Phil shouldn’t be laughing.
Those few good bits encompass about 10 minutes of the flick. The rest of it is treading water punctuated by the cruel recurring trope about abused animals (beheaded, strangled, smothered) and one instance of emotional child abuse. As Stu and Phil say at different points here: “What the fuck?!” I’d been thinking that I didn’t dislike Stu and Phil as much in Part III as I did in Part II, but it might be only because they’re this sensible.
“Ha ha, we’re gonna die finally!” Chow cries at yet another WTF point. If only.