The Hangover Part III (2013)
Dir.: Todd Phillips | Cast: Bradley Cooper; Zach Galifianakis; Ed Helms
After all the hype, the teaser trailers, the speculation and the ‘Harry Potter’-style posters, it was here; the last episode of The Hangover trilogy. After the monumental success of The Hangover (2009) and The Hangover Part II (2011) grossing over $1 Billion the expectations were justifiably high. Todd Phillips, who directed all three films, created a global phenomenon in ‘The Wolf Pack’. From Alan impersonators on the strips of Las Vegas to merchandise and memorabilia of the most ridiculous fashion it has been widely successful all over the world and to surpass the insurmountable achievements of the first film he had a near impossible job on his hands.
The Hangover Part II was received with contempt, with the exact story line of the first without as many laughs or the element of freshness, it wasn’t a massive hit with critics alike but in its opening weekend earnings of $177.8M, a record for any comedy film, it cemented its place in cinematic history. Phillips now had the greater challenge in concluding the trilogy in a way that would leave all audiences satisfied and happy that equilibrium had now been restored in Phil, Stu and Alan’s lives.
The film starts in true Hangover style. A maximum security prison situated 37 miles from Bangkok is being torn apart by inmates in rampageous fashion as the General enters a cellmate’s room. In a hilarious Shawshank reference the escaped convict is one and only, Mr Chow (Ken Jeong), who is travelling through the drainpipes to find freedom from the detention of the prison. The film then returns to normality in the suburban home of Alan’s father who suffers a suspected heart attack due to the actions of his son. His death sparks terrible consequences for the family who cannot bare Alan’s outrageous antics anymore and they decide to host an intervention. It leads to him being sent to a 2 day rehabilitation centre with Doug (Justin Bartha), Phil (Bradley Cooper) and Stu (Ed Helms). The history and friendship is shown on the faces of Phil and Stu who, due to unforeseen circumstances in the first two films, have grown to love and care for troubled Alan.
From there the film descends into a whirlwind of stunts, actions and jokes in the biggest budget film of the series. As Doug is once again absent in the Wolf Pack’s adventures the group are re-united with inappropriately named ‘black Doug’ (Mike Epps) and newcomer and notorious gangster Marshall (John Goodman). They are pulled into Mr Chow’s criminal underworld business and Alan’s friendship with the infamous china men causes the Wolf Pack all kinds of trouble. Not only this, they are forced to return to Las Vegas, Nevada, a place where they vowed to never return.
The Hangover Part III was never going to surpass the first film, as expected, but I was hoping for something more. The film lacked the gut-wrenching laughter of the first film but shied away from the gross-out comedy of the second which left a film which heavily relied on the relationship the audience already had with the characters. Many jokes were recycled and after Stu’s actions in the second film and Phil getting shot, was there much left to shock the audience with? It seems the main concern with Phillips was the narrative, and I believe he was successful in pulling all the strings together and closing the film. His main focus was to achieve closure and I’ll leave that to you to decide if you found he achieved this. However, one thing that is for certain is that The Hangover and its many references and influences are here to stay for years to come and it will remain a focal point when looking at the history of comedy in cinema.
3.5 out of 5.