THE HANGOVER PART III. Starring Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms, Zach Galafiniakis, Justin Bartha, John Goodman, Ken Jeong, Heather Graham. Directed by Todd Phillips. 97 minutes. Rated MA 15+ (Strong coarse language, nudity and crude humour).
Who would have thought that The Hangover would have become such a successful Hollywood franchise? This one is not as funny (a guilty pleasure) as the first film, which even won a Golden Globe as Best Comedy. This one is much better than the second one which was a raunchy repeat trying to rely on an exotic Asian atmosphere to make a difference. So, somewhere in between one and two! And there are not so many drinks around, until the final credits.
Zach Galifiniakis has always been a strong focus of the films even though he does not get top billing. But it is he, Alan, who tends to control, not always intentionally, what happens. The film opens with a dead animal’s joke (and there are more dead animals in the body count this time, chickens and dogs, than gangsters), a giraffe, which has the power to put off some audiences right from the start. But, allowing for the unreality (we hope) and absurdity, it leads us into the tantrums, blind consequences of Alan’s man-child attitudes and behaviour. He can be most irritating and, yet, often quite funny. Ed Helms, Stu the dentist, relies on timing rather than flamboyant comedy. Top-billed Bradley Cooper (who has been extending his on-screen range and getting award nominations for The Silver Linings Playbook) doesn’t deserve it. He is serious-faced a lot of the time, sometimes suggesting that he would rather be elsewhere, a spoilsport face that doesn’t communicate any humour.
Then there is Ken Jeong the mad Mr Chow, who obviously relishes the more screen time he gets and the more manic behaviour that is asked of him. John Goodman as a surly gangster is surly and cruel. The main plotline involves the trio trying to get stolen gold back from Mr Chow for the gangster while the other friend, Doug (Justin Bartha) is being held hostage.
There are some amusing moments and Melissa McCarthy (after funny turns in Bridesmaids, This is 40 and Identity Theft) has a more restrained funny cameo.
The American bloggers have decided against it – with a vengeance. The message may be that while you are on a good thing, stick to it (at least for box-office returns), but too many repeats is a risk and you can run out of steam, and puff.
Fr Peter Malone MSC is an associate of the Australian Catholic Office for Film & Broadcasting.
Out 26th May 2013.