Galifianakis is like bacon—it’s a wonderful food but it doesn’t belong in my Sonic milkshake, no matter how much you want it to.
This summer marks the end of one of the most unnecessary film trilogies since “Airplane!” “The Hangover: Part III” is at least an improvement over the previous film, in that here the script wasn’t copied and pasted from the original with the words Las Vegas replaced by Bangkok. But Part III doesn’t have the tone of either of the previous movies. This third installment still adds nothing of value to the original story and is actually the tamest of the three, which might be a disappointment for teenage fans looking for some quick debauchery. It revisits locations and characters, does nothing to establish anything new in their backgrounds, and then ends in a sentimental scene that doesn’t fit with spirit of the franchise. There are a few chuckle-worthy moments, but they are largely throwaway lines that have nothing to do with the overall plot of the film.
The problem with this film in particular is the over-reliance on one-note characters. This was true in the Part II as well, but the plot of Part III hinges entirely on Alan and Chow. Obviously, Zach Galifianakis’s portrayal of the deranged man-child Alan is the key to what made the first film great. Audiences loved him and the film rocketed Galifianakis to stardom. As a result, the filmmakers took an ingredient that should be used sparingly and made it the main course. Galifianakis is like bacon—it’s a wonderful food but it doesn’t belong in my Sonic milkshake, no matter how much you want it to. The same can be said about Ken Jeong’s Leslie Chow. The tiny, psychotic Asian gangster is as grating here as he is on NBC’s “Community.” (Let’s be honest: Chang and Chow are essentially the same person. It’s just that Chang doesn’t have the weird accent.) Both Alan and Chow should be foils for the other characters to bounce off of, not the other way around. In this installment, Phil and Stew are completely forgettable and interchangeable, shades of what they were at the outset of the franchise. Ed Helms and Bradley Cooper are both very good comic actors, and it’s a shame that the filmmakers didn’t give them anything to do.
As I mentioned, the plot itself is very different from the original film. There isn’t a hangover, no wild parties, no piecing together of the previous night from random clues found lining pockets. It’s a straightforward kidnapping/crime drama. The comedy has definitely taken a backseat in this one. To their credit, the filmmakers listened to criticism of the last film and set out to make something more original. Unfortunately, they rehashed the plot of at least a dozen other films, shoehorned their characters into it, and congratulated themselves on a job well done. These sequels were clearly made solely for the purpose of cashing in on the success of the first. Fans loved Alan and Chow, so the second film boosted their parts and reshot the original in Bangkok. The fans liked it, but complained that it was too much like the first one. So, the filmmakers changed the plot and focused the entire film on the most popular characters. It’s filmmaking by popular vote. The result is a dilution of a good movie into something that only slightly resembles the original experience. If they really wanted to create something memorable, why not use the final installment to bring the audience into the party and let them witness the insanity first hand?
That said, the guffaws coming from behind me while I watched the film indicate that “The Hangover: Part III” will be as successful as the first two. Of course, these were the same people that laughed uproariously at the trailer for “The Internship.” There’s no accounting for taste. Humor is subjective—and some people laugh easily. I suppose that if you pay good money for a comedy, you might as well try to laugh as much as you can, whether it’s funny or not. I just prefer genuine laughs rather than those that are forced or congenial. Genuine laughs are much harder to find.