The Hangover Part III
If it only seems like it was just yesterday we were introduced to The Wolfpack (Alan, Stu, Phil and Doug), it’s because it almost was yesterday. The Hangover only just came out in 2009, it’s sequel soon followed two years later and now in 2013, like clockwork, we have the final installment of “The Wolfpack Trilogy,” because nowadays everything is a trilogy. The Hangover Part III features all the characters you know and love (for lack of a better term) and even brings back those you’ve probably forgotten about, but the culmination of this little comedic saga is something far less familiar.
We open in a Thai prison where series trickster, the mischievous Leslie Chow (Ken Jeong) has just escaped. The scene is like something out of a cheesy ‘90s action film.
We then quickly cut to Alan (Zach Galifianakis) drinking a beer as he speeds down the freeway. Attached to his car is a trailer, which is transporting a giraffe (well, a computer generated giraffe). A low overpass beheads the giraffe causing a massive mult-car pileup in its wake. Alan seems miffed, but otherwise unaffected.
The rest of The Hangover Part III follows suit, juxtaposing weirdly dark comedy with elements of action, but it’s not a clean mesh of genres. Alan’s erratic behavior and refusal to take his medication leads his friends and family to call an intervention. The outcome of which is that Phil (Bradley Cooper), Stu (Ed Helms) and Doug (Justin Bartha) must make a two-day drive across the desert to transport Alan to a facility where he can receive the help he needs. But trouble follows The Wolfpack wherever they go, and along the way they’re abducted by Marshall (John Goodman), who’s involved in all kinds of nebulous criminal activity and is after Mr. Chow for stealing $21 million in gold that Marshall stole from a foreign royal. Marshall believes The Wolfpack is his only hope in finding Mr. Chow, so he holds Doug hostage and forces Stu, Phil and Alan to find the Chinese sociopath. The trail leads The Wolfpack to where else but Las Vegas. Along the way, there is a good deal of action, but the laughs are strangely absent.
The Hangover trilogy doesn’t stick to formula, which usually dictates that the second film in the series is the darkest. The Hangover Part III is quite dark. Though much like the previous two installments, our three heroes must band together to help a colleague, the consequences here are a bit more severe. Doug’s life is on the line whereas in the other films the guys might not have made it to a wedding in time. Marshall is not a man to be trifled with. There’ll be hell to pay if he doesn’t get his hands on Mr. Chow. Even Mr. Chow seems extra dangerous here. He’s not just a goofy villain, but a calculating, malicious force of chaos. At one point,
Marshall goes as far as to equate Mr. Chow to madness itself.
There are laughs, sure. Galifianakis has a great moment in a Las Vegas pawn store with the brilliant Melissa McCarthy, but this is one of the few light scenes in the film. This is a caper with more in common with True Romance than the past two Hangover movies. In one scene, Phil and Alan infiltrate Mr. Chow’s penthouse suite at Caesar’s Palace. Strobe lights flash as the two try to work their way through the room after room of debauchery as Black Sabbath plays ominously behind them (side note: the soundtrack for this movie is definitely worth a listen). It’s a trippy, dizzying and very exciting scene for the senses, but, like, where’s all that lowbrow humor, bro?
That’s the thing that bothers me the most about The Hangover Part III. I’ve seen each film in the series, but until this one, I didn’t realize I was supposed to actually care about these characters. Sure they’re lovable, but they’re all kind of jerks, right? That’s what makes them funny. Toward the film’s climax, Phil says to the rest of the trio, “This all ends tonight,” with such gravitas I couldn’t tell if it was meant to be ironic or not. Weren’t we all hanging out with Mike Tyson, getting face tattoos and taking incriminating photos while we were way too fucked up over the past four years? Suddenly it’s Frodo’s journey into Mordor or something. Dudes, this is way too intense for me. We’ll always be bros and all, but I’m kind of glad it’s time to say goodbye.