As the Hangover series comes to a close, it’s wild to look back on the three successful comedies and reflect on how a jaw-dropping sleeper hit eventually became a three-part franchise that has split audiences – especially the second installment which many called “too dark” and “a complete rip-off of the original”.
As for myself, I’ve enjoyed where this series has gone and am one of the few who appreciates the The Hangover Part II. While I enjoyed the first outing with the Wolfpack, I found the second adventure cleaned up some qualms I had about the first Hangover. It was familiar territory for the cast and crew but a fitting do-over.
The third is, once again, making people frown whilst making me chuckle. It’s about as much of a tonal shift as Part II was, but this time around writer/director Todd Phillips and co-writer Craig Mazin lavish in the fact that this is the last installment. Part III isn’t a spoof on climactic trilogy endings but it sure has fun playing with those ideas and towering stakes all accompanied by a booming score provided by Christophe Beck.
After stewing on the thought that this once simple premise about recollecting drunken memories has now evolved into this manhunt for an international, coke snorting criminal Mr. Chow (played, of course, by Ken Jeong), maybe this inflation in plot is what’s making those naysaying movie goers turn the other cheek towards this once popular comedy juggernaut.
Just as comedy is, The Hangover Part III is subjective to taste. Those who weren’t hot for Part II are only going to like this chapter slightly more because everything comes full circle in a satisfying way. Other than that, they’re most likely going to have that same knee jerk reaction to the film’s jarring twists and turns.
Now, I ask for all those who have “gone with the flow” to lend their ears. If you are open to the fact that Part III adds more gravity to this story that was seemingly surface deep, you’re going to be pleasantly surprised.
The three leads (Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms, and Zach Galifianakis) still keep their likeable on-screen chemistry as they bounce back and forth to solve the mystery at hand. This time, the search for Chow has gotten riskier due to a heftier, intimidating drug dealer getting involved in the chase. This gangster named Marshall is played by an amusing John Goodman, who sounds as if he replaces C’s and K’s for G’s when he’s dropping the F-bomb.
As the story progresses and our lead characters try to locate Chow, not once does the strand of events seem overwrought. It borderlines on becoming a cartoon – and sometimes does – in some scenes featuring random humour, such as a nerve wracking sneaky scene where Chow and Stu have to emulate dog-like maneuvers in order to trick security cameras. But, it’s all bizarrely funny, especially with this particular scene knowing how to use Chow’s abrasive attitude towards Helms’ straight man routine.
The Hangover Part III always keeps our interest while trying to make us laugh while also trying to integrate past characters from other movies. These moments featuring Heather Graham’s Jade and Mike Epps’ Black Doug are fleeting, but this goes to show that Phillips and Mazin don’t want to pound these throwbacks into the ground. They want to keep this adventure moving.
By the end of the film, I was pleased with how much I laughed and how much I was surprised by how Phillips and Mazin tried to go about things differently and go against the grain. It might not sit well with a lot of viewers, but those who are willing to take in this last outing with an “anything goes” frame of mind will walk away from the movie feeling fulfilled.