There are some movies that you enter into thinking “I’d better hate this like everyone else”. With some movies, that concern is valid. If you liked Scary Movie 5 or A Haunted House, that’s probably something best kept to yourself. What’s sad to me is that The Hangover: Part III has now become one of those movies that, as a critic, I feel like I’m not supposed to like. The Hangover: Part II was a disappointingly lazy attempt to squeeze more money out of its audience, and now that it’s succeeded why would Part III be any different? I always try my best to stay completely away from any sort of reviews for a new release until after I’ve seen it, but I had unintentionally glimpsed the Rotten Tomatoes score while checking theater times (Damn you Flixster!) so I was fully prepared for a disappointing experience. Now, I’m a pretty cynical person and usually that cynicism applies itself to comedy as much as any other genre, yet the further I got into this movie the more I found myself wondering “Why do people hate this so much?” Because of this, I’ll be doing my best to defend this film in the following review, so if that doesn’t sound like something you’d be interested in reading I completely understand if you’d like to stop here. It’s still nowhere near the same level of fun that the original movie was, but a refreshingly new(ish) plot and a new emphasis on referencing the first film without copying it earns The Hangover: Part III a solid, if not entirely enthusiastic, recommendation from yours truly.
The Plot: 6/10
This time, there’s no wedding. No bachelor party. What could go wrong, right? But when the Wolfpack hits the road, all bets are off.
To be fair, if this were the plot of any other movie I’d probably be fairly unimpressed. The Hangover: Part III has the added bonus of just how low the previous movie set the bar in terms of plot, seeing as it was almost exactly the same as the first movie. As a result, anything even mildly original would have pleased me here, and in my opinion that’s what the plot of Part III is; mildly original. Sure, some aspects are kept the same (crazy hijinx done in the name of saving Doug, being strong-armed by a violent criminal in order to obtain Chow) but those elements are tweaked enough that they don’t feel like complete knock-offs. For one thing, there is no “Hangover” this time, and as such the movie doesn’t rely on the “Retracing your steps” frame keep things rolling along.
The Writing: 6/10
Honestly, I thought the writing for the characters was perfectly serviceable, and the only reason I’m scoring this section as low as a 6 is that it’s more or less the same kind of writing we’ve been seeing for the entire series. Most of the comedy in the film doesn’t rely on the writing so much as it does the character interactions, with Phil and Stu’s normal-guy-characters reacting to whatever weird personality quirks Alan puts out on display. That being said, the writing definitely doesn’t get in the way of those reactions so I guess you can at least give it that.
In terms of character development, you’re really not going to get much with the exception of one arc involving Melissa McCarthy and Alan (who are strangely perfect for each other). That being said, who the hell was walking into this movie expecting character development in the first place? The Hangover series has always revolved around the random, off-the-wall things that happens to The Wolfpack, not about how they grow together as human beings.
The Acting: 7/10
Once again, everything in this department is pretty similar to what we’ve seen before, but I thought that for whatever reason it just worked better this time around. Stu (Ed Helms) is still angry, Phil (Bradley Cooper) is still frustrated yet slightly aloof, and Alan (Zach Galifianakis) is… Alan. Of all three, I thought that Galifianakis was the one who felt the most… let’s say evolved for lack of a better word. In Part II he just felt like a weak, silly copy of his hilariously odd character in the first film, but here he has a few more dimensions added to him that make him feel a bit more rounded. Specifically, I thought he felt more opinionated and almost cocky at times, especially in his confrontation scenes with Helms. The scenes with McCarthy were also a nice touch, it let us see an almost sweet side of Alan that we haven’t seen much of before.
Aside from The Wolfpack, there’s the usual abundance of cameos along with a few that specifically call back to the first film (Baby Carlos is back!), but they feel more obligatory than anything. I was a bit disappointed by how flat of a role Goodman was given, the man has tremendous comic talents and to see them go unused was a bit sad. Now I knew that Leslie Chow (Ken Jeong) would feature pretty heavily into this one, and while I like Mr. Jeong in Community and The Hangover, I wasn’t exactly psyched about that fact. Luckily, Chow is still funny if you enjoy his character, though I was more impressed with the fact that he actually feels like a legitimate criminal this time. In the last movie, he felt more like a coke-addled idiot who is randomly decent at evading InterPol. This time, though, there are a few scenes in which he feels like an actual dangerous man, especially near the film’s climax.
The Comedy: 8/10
When it comes down to it, Comedy is a hard genre to argue about. You can come up with justifications for why a story is derivative or why the writing is lazy but ultimately, the only thing that matters is whether or not the movie made you laugh. In that department, The Hangover: Part III was a success for me. All of it made me remember what it was that made me like The Hangover so much in the first place, even if wasn’t quite able to have the “Out-of-nowhere” factor that that movie had going for it. In any case, if you didn’t like this movie it’s probably because, for whatever reason, it didn’t make you laugh. If it didn’t, I won’t try to change your mind, but if it did, you shouldn’t have to be ashamed about it.
As a final note, the one thing I won’t let slide is that the movie makes a clumsy and obvious ripoff of an iconic Zoolander bit. Hands off my Blue Steel, you damn dirty writers!
As a final, final note, stick around for the after credit scene, it’s probably the funniest bit of the entire movie. Plus, if you mainly came to see some R-rated content, that scene alone is enough to justify the entire movie
The Verdict: 7.0/10 – Good
+ While similar in many ways, the plot isn’t an exact copy of Part I like Part II was
+ Galifiankis has his character down pat, which is good seeing as he’s now officially typecast
+ What can I say, I laughed a lot and left the theater pretty happy with the experience
- There’s almost nothing here that’d make you like the franchise if you didn’t already
Rotten Tomatoes: 21 %
The Filmster: [Good, not Great]
Black Sheep Reviews: 2.5/5
KCG Reviews: 2.5/5
Tim’s Film Reviews: 48%
Films With Cappie: 2/5
The Cinema Monster: 3.5/10
Average: 5.2/10 – Mediocre
This will surely place among the ranks of Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters as the biggest disagreements I have with my critical peers in 2013.