film reel image

film reel image

Friday, October 11, 2013

The Hangover Part III 2013 * * * Stars

Director: Todd Phillips
Year: 2013
Rated: R
Rating: * * * Stars
Cast: Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms, Zach Galifianakis, Ken Jeong

Well I guess it's official, I'm eating my words as we speak. Yeah, I'm the guy who doesn't like sequels and yet here I am giving positive ratings to Star Trek Into Darkness and now The Hangover Part III. It's scary to think of what I might do next. If the new Fast and the Furious movie impresses me, I guess I'll just skip reviewing it and go straight into denial. But seriously folks, I went into the new Hangover with really low expectations. We're talking bottom feeder if you know what I mean. So from now on I think that's the key. I'm going to take this approach with every film I see. That way I'll stroll out of the theater as a movie critic that raves about everything and comes off as not so darn grumpy. Whoa, forget what I just said. I was merely kidding people!

Anyway, here's what occurs in part III. At the very beginning, we find mentally unstable "wolfpack" member Alan (Zach Galifianakis getting the most exposure he's had in any of the Hangover films) buying a giraffe, putting it in the back of his truck, and killing it on the freeway (I'm thinking you know how it happened). Upon doing this, he irritates his family and draws concern from the other "wolfpack" members (Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms, Justin Bartha). Everyone but Alan, stages an intervention on his behalf to get him to a treatment center somewhere in Arizona. He'll agree to go if his three buds will drive him there. As the four of them set out on a moderately short road trip, their car is rammed off the road, they are dragged out of it (held at gunpoint mind you), and one of the crew (Bartha of course) is taken hostage. This sets off a chain of events which leads everybody to venture back to good old Sin City.

Well let's get down to it. Right off the bat I want to let you know why I liked The Hangover Part III. I enjoyed it for the exact reason that some critics panned it. This flick doesn't try to be like the other two in the trilogy. In fact, it feels like a totally different animal all together. Yes there is a dash of the funny (something part I did effortlessly and part II attempted miserably), but there's also a hint of darkness that comes close to turning everything into a sort of black comedy with shards of mild violence. For me, this is an effective way to wraps things up (unless there is a part IV of course). You can tell that the director (Todd Phillips) wanted to avoid copping out and injected part III with a little more juice (this is the other reason I liked it and most critics didn't. They think Phillips went way over the top or felt he had to prove something). He did the film justice by avoiding the same tired plot line (everyone gets smashed and wakes up not knowing what the heck just happened) while making an effort to tie together loose ends from the other two movies (by way of flashbacks). This is done to effect in the first 15 minutes and it sets everything in motion.

The actors then promptly assume their personalities from the first two installments. Doug Billings who's never around for the debauchery, plays the happily married nice guy. Alan, plays the screw loose, borderline mental patient who nonchalantly goes about his business. Phil, is the smug, unhappily married school teacher who is calm under pressure, and Stu is the manic anxiety ridden dentist who thinks all hope is gone. Together they fit their roles like comfortable old shoes. Overall their performances are manically unhinged. You get what's required of them coupled with a fresher more potently nasty script this time around (part II's had lazy written all over it).

As far as supporting work goes, I thought John Goodman (gangster Marshall) was a nice little addition to the Hangover family (he riffs off his Big Lebowski character but just not quite as intense). I also like the addition of a love interest for Alan (someone besides man crush Phil) in Melissa McCarthy. She seems to make a cameo in everything these days and certainly is a hoot as a pawn shop owner who candidly berates her wheelchair confined mother.

The only setback for this Hangover is the blatant deviation from the focus of the four stars of the movie (the infamous "wolfpack"). This exercise is bent on giving two supporting characters their own vehicle (Ken Jeong as Mr. Chow and Galifianakis). True these guys are funny and steal many a scene, but the other members of the cast don't get a lot of room to breathe. They get kind of pushed to the side and become sort of frowned upon (Bradley Cooper recently got nominated for an Oscar, give him some props for gosh sakes). And what's with always having Justin Bartha's character not present with the other members of the "pack" when the madness of their misadventures is going down. It seems predetermined and silly. What, is he not good enough an actor to occupy some precious screen time with his buddies (Bartha was in the colossal flop Gigli (2003) so maybe that's it, who knows).

When it all comes down to it, I found myself at ease with the way part III whisked by. It's darker than the first one, funnier than the second one, and more daring than both of them. I laughed, I winced, and felt confident in recommending this hot mess of a movie. It's a sequel all right, but it tries really hard not to be one. I admire that. With nothing to lose, you should go check out The Hangover part III. It's a solid time killer and a required "hair of the dog" if you will.

Written by Jesse Burleson

No comments:

Post a Comment