Thursday, May 23

Hangover 3 Review

Hangover 3
Dir: Todd Phillips
Starring: Bradley Cooper, Zack Galifianakis, Ed Helms, and Ken Jeong

Breaking the established form is usually a good thing with films that have consistently done the same thing. The first Hangover far exceeded expectations. The second, building on the chemistry of the characters, mostly made the equivalent of the first film substituting locale. The third, and supposedly final in the series, does well to end the party and ensuing hangover that introduces the films. Though the final sentiment isn’t as funny as the first, Hangover 3 is better than the second offering, though that’s not necessarily a compliment.

Leslie Chow (Ken Jeong), having been jailed in the last film, breaks out of prison in the opening segment of the film. Having stolen a huge sum of money from a drug dealer named Marshall (John Goodman), a clever series connection, Chow flees to Mexico. While the collective “Wolfpack” moves forward, leaving the past behind them, Alan (Zack Galifianakis) is off his medication and an intervention is planned to send him to a treatment center in Arizona. Phil (Bradley Cooper), Stu (Ed Helms), and Doug (Justin Bartha) agree to take Alan to the facility before being kidnapped by Marshall who, in a funny turn, takes Doug as hostage. The “Wolfpack” is tasked with finding Chow for the life of Doug.

There is a greater emphasis on the relationship of Alan and Chow, the two wild kindred spirits. Though initially it’s amusing to see these two characters in the spotlight, they become more annoying than humorous when their stories lead the film. Alan, already walking a fine line of exasperating charm, is far more pretentious with his off handed insults. Chow is overused, though some of his antics are funny and Ken Jeong gives life to the character, his role works so much better in small doses. Chow is essentially a main character in this film. Stuart and Phil have a more restricted role, basically playing second chair to Chow and Alan’s antics. The emphasis on these two characters works at times, but the ensemble chemistry was always a quality that held the films together. Though it doesn’t ruin this film, it definitely changes the comedic dynamic and tone of the film.

The narrative focuses on darker themes in the third installment; the group seems surrounded by death from the introduction. There is a moral attribute that is associated to this narrative feature, the consequence of the thoughtless and blundering choices they made in the first two films are finally catching up with them. Also, Alan is maturing in his own absurd way throughout the course of the film by dismantling his relationship with Chow, who is an extension of the dangerous personalities embodied by the group during their drunken state. Director Todd Phillips succeeds when he focuses on this group perspective allowing the characters to play off each other. Though he too often resorts to rehashed jokes from past films, there are times when the tried and true comedy is altered enough to induce laughter.

Phillips is an accomplished director, having crafted some of the funniest films in the past decade. Hangover 3 operates best when it challenges the past formula and allows the character to forward the motivations in the film, unfortunately that does not happen too often here. This third film will divide fans of the franchise, though there are just enough funny moments to satisfy those looking for a simple laugh. And, in the end, the neatly tied-up story still leaves a sliver of hope for those not wanting the hangover to stop.

Monte’s Rating
2.50 out of 5.00

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