So this is it: the last Hangover movie ever apparently, which seems somewhat doubtful given the success of the previous entries. Whilst the original was phenomenal in terms of high concept comedy and characterisation, Part 2 felt like nothing more than a tepid, but enjoyable, re-tread of the original’s plot in a different location. The very nature of the franchise is far from precious but the fact that the first two movies raked in a cat-load and with the latest likely to do the same, surely a fourth entry can’t be totally out of the question? But I suppose that all depends on Part 3. So what of it.
After coming off of his meds and showing few signs of recovering, Zach Galifianakis’ Alan is convinced by his family and the rest of the wolf-pack to attend a therapy camp called New Horizons in a bid to iron out his quirks and get normal. Agreeing that it sounds awesome, the pack embark to cure their friend. But the plan backfires when trouble catalyst Doug is kidnapped by John Goodman’s boisterous crime bastard Marshall and threatened death unless the rest of the gang track down series regular Mr Chow, who recently escaped from prison and stole half of Marshall’s gold. So the pack embark to find Chow and return him to Marshall so Doug can be set free, but fortunately (for our sake) nothing goes to plan.
Given Part 2’s plot, which was a lazy re-hash of the original’s structure, it should be refreshing that writer/ director Todd Phillips has attempted to do something new with the franchise in terms of story and character development. Instead of following the cast through a detective style second act as they try to piece together the events of their night before, we are forced to spend some sober time with them. Not so much to see what they’re like outside of a drunken stupor, but so they can be deepened and developed to give them and the franchise some (much needed?) depth. On occasion this works: one of the more memorable scenes of Part 3 is when Alan receives a hug from a toddler which is surprisingly touching, but on the whole the film falls short on laughs. And where exactly is the actual hangover?
Part 3 plods along at a steady pace, gelling nicely as the pack embark on their mission while encountering familiar faces from previous entries, but the narrative isn’t strong enough to form a compelling backbone. Had the story been crafted around a more unique central concept, it would have been wonderful to see such likeable characters journey to a new location in a fresher context: at earlier stages there were reports that this second sequel was to be set in Amsterdam. The pack’s return to Vegas in the final act is like a lazy link to the original that it could have done without, and the kidnap/ ransom aspect lifted from a dozen other films, when combined with the Nevada setting feels particularly half-arsed.
As with Part 2 the narrative is the film’s main weakness while its strengths are the characters and performances. There are more bad jokes than good but on occasion some popcorn choking classics make the whole affair entertaining enough. While Part 3 doesn’t feel ground-breaking enough in terms of plot, another Hangover movie/ Chow/ Alan buddy spin off could work. Maybe it would be welcome just to spend more time with them in another different location, which was the only aspect from the first sequel that felt interesting, and with a unique structure/ subtext. With this in mind hopefully Todd Phillips will be able to craft something both original and touching the next time round (if there is one) that will capture audiences imaginations the same way the first movie did. Meanwhile…
The Hangover Part 3 is now on general release.