by Justin Jasso (@jjasso007)
When you first experience something perfect, it’s a forgone conclusion that you’ll do it again. In Hollywood, if a film is hugely successful, then you can almost bet there will be a sequel to build off that momentum. After all, Hollywood is show BUSINESS, and they are here to make money. In 2009, director Todd Phillips brought to the screen something fresh with a cast of characters who were virtually unknowns at the time. The film was The Hangover, and it went on to be a financial goldmine. So they went back to the well with The Hangover II; however, they recycled the same script, putting the plot in Thailand, and the result paled in comparison to its predecessor. Todd Phillips has returned with The Hangover III, the final chapter of the trilogy, and thankfully, an original script for our beloved Wolf Pack.
Alan (Zach Galifianakis) has gone off of his meds and isn’t doing so well. The family asks the Wolf Pack, Alan’s only true friends; Phil (Bradley Cooper), Stu (Ed Helms) and Doug (Justin Bartha) to intervene. They want to send Alan to a rehab facility in Arizona to get help. Unfortunately, on the drive down, they are run off the road in the middle of the desert by a mobster named Marshall (John Goodman). Apparently, Chow (Ken Jeong) has stolen millions of dollars in gold bars from him and he wants the Wolf Pack to get it back as they are the only ones who really know Chow. To ensure they do get the gold back, he’s taking Doug (poor Doug) with him as collateral. The Wolf Pack has three days to locate Chow, get the gold, and return it to Marshall or Doug is dead. What’s the worst that can happen?
As I mentioned before, this is a completely different film with good and bad qualities. On the positive side, it’s a completely new adventure for our characters. We couldn’t have our cast wake up another morning with no idea of what happened the night before and go through the day trying to put the facts together while looking for someone they “lost” somehow. This time everything is right in front of us as the crew searches for Chow in order to get Doug back. On the down side, this film is mostly the Alan and Chow Show with Phil and Stu more or less sitting on the sidelines. And while Alan is hilarious, he’s also a different character this time around. He’s not the same lovable, goofy guy we had in the first film. Maybe it’s because he’s off his meds, but he’s more crass and just plain mean sometimes, with varying effects on the comedy. Chow, well he’s still Chow, and it’s fun with him having more screen time. But Phil and Stu were the characters that most resemble “adults,” people we can all relate to, and them being second stringers this film takes a little away from how great it could have been.
As a cast, they all work great together. From the initial film, each actor brings something different to their character. They are so mismatched as friends that it just works out. It’s like some weird yin-yang thing. However, this time around, there isn’t any alcohol involved or drugs leading to their shenanigans. Zach has really been given the reigns this time around, and for the most part, he hits the mark. Ken Jeong, with a bigger role, takes the character of Chow and amplifies him (if that’s possible) from the previous films. Bradley Cooper and Ed Helms are still true to their characters, and they each have their moments of hilarity. Maybe Todd Phillips designed the character balance that way on purpose. We couldn’t have four main characters being extremely outrageous the entire film, could we? We needed some balance, right? In The Hangover? No, probably best to go all out. I mean, that’s how you get a hangover, right?
In terms of supporting characters, John Goodman’s Marshall is more of a one note player without much depth or variety. He’s a mobster, plain and simple, and he wants his money back. Something nice Todd Phillips did in this film was bring back some of the old characters–Mike Epps returns as the drug dealer Doug, and Heather Graham returns as Jade, doing well for herself I might add. Also, baby Carlos is now grown up and has a very funny moment alone with Alan recounting their first meeting. Justin Bartha, once again, isn’t in the film for very long. I think he’s had maybe thirty minutes of screen time in all three movies combined, if that. New to the franchise is Melissa McCarthy, who is absolutely hilarious in her cameo role. The chemistry she has with Zach in their scenes is great and one of the many highlights of the film.
It’ll be interesting to see what the public thinks of this final installment to the Hangover trilogy. While the film is a different approach, it doesn’t come close to delivering the excitement and originality that the initial film provided. But let’s be honest, a film as new and epic as the first Hangover, no other sequel would match that. And to be fair, it’s much better than The Hangover II. And while the plot is a little convoluted and linear, and we don’t get as much as we may have liked from Phil and Stu, the film is still hilarious in its own right and fun to watch from the beginning to the end credit scenes. The Hangover III provides a fitting end to the story of the Wolf Pack and this is one that we can all hold up our cups and drink to that.
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars