The Hangover Part III

May 31, 2013 by  
Filed under Movies

The Wolfpack is back for one more adventure, and this time, the formula’s changed a bit. This was a relief after it felt a bit tired in “The Hangover Part II”, and it even felt a bit underused since they were in such an exotic place where they didn’t even speak the language. The arrogant Phil (Bradley Cooper), paranoid Stu (Ed Helms), quiet and completely unknown Doug (Justin Bartha), and the man of the hour Alan (Zach Galifianakis) have returned to fix a problem that was started by their old nemesis, Chow (Ken Jeong). Unbeknownst to them, Alan and Chow have actually been in contact, and that leads a gold smuggler named Marshall (John Goodman) to catch them on their way to taking Alan to a mental hospital in Arizona. Chow has broken out of prison in Bangkok and stolen gold from Marshall. The gang is told they have only 3 days to find Chow and bring him to Marshall. And guess who is the bait?

Doug. The one guy we never get to know in any of these movies. I suppose that it’s fitting, and probably on purpose, that they chose him again. So, it’s the remaining three of Phil, Stu, and Alan, to find Chow who has gone to Tijuana. The boys try to use their own medicine that had gotten them in trouble in the first place and drug Chow when they find him–but Chow is on to them.

Instead, Chow sets them up yet again and has them unknowingly break into Marshall’s mansion and steal more gold from him. Then, Chow leaves them there while he goes…back to Las Vegas. Now the gang has even less time and a less patient Marshall to work with.

So in this sequel, action drives the plot more than any other “Hangover” movie. I guess that works better, but it leaves less room for comedy. There are some big laughs, though, including one involving Alan in an intervention that echoes an actual episode of “Intervention”. In fact, most of the laughs belong to Alan, as this is primarily his and Chow’s movie. Alan’s always been the most enjoyable character, although I couldn’t care less for Chow. But the filmmakers get it right this time by giving Galifianakis the most screen time. And, they are smart not to clutter the film up with tired cameos and stupid in-jokes.

This felt the most like a real “film” of the three “Hangovers”, and it works the best. I would’ve liked to laugh more; but I was at least thoroughly entertained, and that’s more than I could say for the first sequel. The entire trilogy still leaves something to be desired, though. I always felt that the execution never lived up to the promise of the set-up. I always liked the premise of people waking up after a night that they don’t remember. But there were always conveniences and lazy pay-offs that I thought undermined the potential for a great action comedy series, which is really what this was. I think if the writers looked more at screenplays like “Lethal Weapon” and “48 Hrs.” instead of trying to be something like an adult “American Pie” or a less bleak “Very Bad Things”, the series would’ve been more of a success.

As it stands, however, I do think this is the brightest of the three films, because it focused on the right character this time. It is a funny movie, and at times it’s thrilling too. The most surprising thing, though, is that it even has a sweet moment halfway through where we are reacquainted with the baby “Carlos” from the second movie. He’s grown up a little bit; but he and Alan share a very good scene together, possibly the best in the whole movie. The resolution of the film is satisfying; and unlike the other two films, it ends right when it needs to. 

This isn’t a movie that will resonate but I did enjoy the ride while it lasted. I don’t need to go through it again; thankfully, it looks like that isn’t going to be offered anyway.

My rating: :-)

The Hangover

June 14, 2009 by  
Filed under Featured Content, Movies

“The Hangover” did look a lot like “Very Bad Things”–but they are two completely different movies. Where “Very Bad Things” is a dark comedy about the depravity of humanity (who knew Peter Berg was so disturbed?), “The Hangover” is a light screwball comedy that, while it does have some “shock” moments, never lets up its shiny disposition that you should have fun with it. It’s a misadventure.

And, probably one that I should’ve encountered sometime in my life while drunkenly wandering the streets of the south side of Chicago. But somehow, by unbelievable luck–I survived without having to go through the ordeals these poor guys have to. And “The Hangover” is everybody’s worst nightmare come true when you go balls out and get wasted–and in a town like Vegas, so much can happen.

So it was, from the start, a win-win situation, as long as the writers realized how much material they had to work with. I think they got it. I think there could have been more, but I think they got enough of it.

This is helped in large part to Zach Galifianakis’s deadpan, strange, and off-the-wall performance where there’s just so much honesty in his eyes, you can’t help but laugh at everything he says and does. There are also just some laugh out loud moments in the film, some of which you feel guilty laughing about.

Overall the movie does work, but I have to gripe about a few things that didn’t work for me: what was the point of the car meaning so much to the dad? It didn’t add any stakes as we all are aware the car was pretty valuable–and, it was already stated in the beginning that he didn’t want anybody driving it but Doug. It just seemed unnecessary for the repeated lines of “Dad is going to be so mad about the car!”. Didn’t add anything at all. But that’s small, it didn’t annoy me. The chicken. What was with the chicken? It wasn’t even a funny prop. The tiger at least had a pay off and was amusing. I didn’t buy the connection Stu made with ruffies having to do with where Doug was. That was weak to me.

But the biggest problem I had was the ending. Once they found Doug, that was it. There was nothing left on the table. It was a huge dip in the energy of the film, and I just felt that the whole wedding sequence was severely drawn out. And the wedding band? Um…yeah–we KINDA saw that in…”Old School”? It was eye-roll inducing to say the least. I understand they wanted to conclude stuff with Stu and his girlfriend but they could’ve done that in a much quicker way. We don’t care enough about these characters to sit through the ceremonies. Once they had found Doug, and they were headed back to the wedding, you need to end the movie in 5 minutes or less.

Going back to the characters for a moment–while misadventures don’t often allow for a lot of character development, because they wanted to treat this as sort of a buddy movie as well as a screwball comedy, it didn’t work as well because the characters were very thinly drawn. It was as though they just borrowed stereotypes from other movies about bachelor parties and gave them the run-of-the-mill standard personalities. And the weird thing was, they didn’t even act out accordingly a lot of the time. Because Allen (Zach) was such a strong presence, the other characters seemed to spend most of their time just trying to figure him out rather than being who they were. And Doug was a complete non-entity. We had no idea why these guys were friends to begin with. They could’ve used a scene or two to establish their history.

The ending credits were probably the funniest part, and that’s not exactly the best time to have the biggest laughs. But I will give credit–they were hysterical.

Overall, it’s a good time and it’s a fun movie. Yes, obviously when you break it down, it falls a part a little bit more. But I’ve laid out stuff in this review that’s really not even necessary–but I couldn’t get it off my mind. Don’t worry, I am recommending this film and I did enjoy it. But I had to call out the weaknesses.

My rating: :-)