Friday, March 14, 2014

"THE HANGOVER, PART III" (2013) Review

"THE HANGOVER, PART III" (2013) Review

I must admit that I was surprised to learn that Todd Phillips had a second sequel to his 2009 hit comedy, "THE HANGOVER" in the works. I felt surprised, considering the critical reaction to his first sequel, 2011's "THE HANGOVER, PART II"

Many moviegoers and critics not only complained that the plot for "THE HANGOVER, PART II" bore a strong resemblance to "THE HANGOVER", but it was also inferior to the latter. As much as I liked "THE HANGOVER, PART II", I must admit that I agreed with these complaints. The critics were equally unkind to"THE HANGOVER, PART III". And it is here where I and a good number of moviegoers parted company. Mind you, I do not believe that this third film is as good as the 2009 movie or even better. But I do consider it better than the 2011 movie.

Set two years after "THE HANGOVER, PART II", this third film begins with "international criminal" Leslie Chow's escape from a maximum security prison in Thailand. Back in the United States, Alan Garner causes a major freeway pile up after he purchases a giraffe and accidentally decapitates it , while driving under a low bridge. Alan's father dies of a heart attack, while giving him a furious lecture for never owning up to his mistakes. Following the funeral, Alan's brother-in-law Doug Billings informs friends Phil Wenneck and Stu Price that Alan has been off his ADHD medication and is out of control. They attend an intervention, in which Alan agrees to visit a rehab facility in Arizona, so long as "the Wolfpack" takes him there. During the drive to Arizona, "the Wolfpack" is driven off the road by a vengeful drug lord named Marshall and "Black Doug", the drug dealer who had sold Alan some drugs in the first film. Marshall tells them that Chow had hijacked half of a gold heist. And since Alan had been the only one to communicate with Chow during his imprisonment, Marshall decided that "the Wolfpack" could locate him and retrieve the gold. Marshall holds Doug as hostage and gives the others three days to find Chow. Along the way, the three friends travel to Mexico and Las Vegas, break into a Mexican manor with Chow, get arrested and attempt to kidnap Chow. 

The humor featured in "THE HANGOVER, PART III" did not strike me as sharp as the humor in the first two movies. One might find this a surprising remark for me, considering my earlier statement about this movie being better than the second one. I stand by my words. The humor featured in "THE HANGOVER, PART III" did not strike me as memorable as that found in the first two movies. On the other hand, a part of me strongly feels that this third movie is somewhat better than the second one. First of all, Todd Phillips and his co-writer, Craig Mazin, decided not to make the same mistake they made in "THE HANGOVER, PART II" - namely follow a similar plot line from "THE HANGOVER". Instead, they created an entirely different situation in which "the Wolfpack" find themselves in serious danger, thanks to Alan's correspondence with the slippery Leslie Chow, a vengeful drug dealer and Chow himself. And for the first time, the Alan Garner character is forced to grow up . . . somewhat, after he falls in love with a Vegas pawnshop owner named Cassie. I found the latter especially gratifying, because Alan's man-child demeanor was beginning to wear a bit thin after the second film. More importantly, "THE HANGOVER, PART III" was not as tainted by the gross humor that nearly overwhelmed "THE HANGOVER, PART II". Unfortunately, the movie was not completely free of any gross humor. Phillips and Mazin decided they could not completely let go of the franchise's old premise and gross humor in a tacked on ending that DID NOT left me rolling in the aisles.

The performances in "THE HANGOVER, PART III" did not disappoint, despite the more subdued humor. Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms and Zach Galifianakis continued to maintain their strong chemistry from the two previous films. I had hoped that Justin Bartha, who portrayed the fourth and least seen member of "the Wolfpack", would for once have a larger role in the film. Unfortunately, Bartha continued to be wasted in this franchise. The man must have the patience of a saint. Ken Jeong was as funny as ever as self-indulgent, yet slippery Leslie Chow. I was also impressed at how he skillfully portrayed the darker side of Chow. John Goodman gave a scary and intimidating performance as Marshall, the drug lord who forced the four friends to search for Chow. Mike Epps returned for another funny portrayal as "Black Doug", the inept drug dealer, who now serves as Marshall's chief of security. Heather Graham also returned from the first film in a sweet performance as Stu's first wife, the Vegas stripper Jade. To be honest, I am not that familiar with Melissa McCarthy. I have never seen "BRIDESMAIDS","IDENTITY THIEF" or "MIKE & MOLLY". But I must admit that I was impressed by her portrayal of the feisty pawnshop Cassie and the chemistry she generated with Galifianakis' Alan Garner.

Despite the tacky misstep that ended "THE HANGOVER, PART III" and its not-so-sharp humor, I must admit that I liked it very much. I certainly found it more bearable to watch than the problematic 2011 movie. More importantly, "THE HANGOVER, PART III" proved to have a more original story, thanks to Todd Phillips and Craig Mazin's screenplay. And thanks to Phillips' direction and a first-rate cast, "THE HANGOVER, PART III"proved to be more entertaining than I had assumed it would be.

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