This (supposedly) final chapter in what’s now become known as The Hangover Trilogy, that started with the hugely successful and much loved 2009 film followed by the less critically acclaimed but even more successful sequel in 2011, promises that ‘It All Ends.’ You’ll wish it had never started.
Eschewing the tried and tested formula of the first two films (no ‘morning after the night before’ scenario here), this time we have the Wolfpack of Phil, Stu and Alan, forced by John Goodman’s crime boss Marshall into finding Chow (Ken Jeong) who has stolen some money from him. And from then on, we focus on the Wolfpack’s race against time to find the elusive Chow and rescue the series’ most unlucky character, Doug, taken by Marshall as leverage.
Now I liked the first Hangover film, and even the second to a degree, but I have literally nothing good to say about this most recent one. The main criticism of the second film was that it was just a carbon copy of the first but relocated to Bangkok so perhaps in response to that, director Todd Phillips has gone out of his way to make a different type of film. What he’s made here is a road-trip-cum-heist movie with slightly wacky and absurd characters. What he hasn’t made is a comedy. I laughed twice throughout the entire 100 minute runtime (three, at a push). At least the second film, for all its faults, had some decent laughs. The film coasts on the good will we have for these characters and the much better film in which they were introduced, and as a result it comes off as lazy. As if the writers thought people will go and see it anyway, so why bother?
[In fact, if you weren’t already aware it was a comedy, you could be forgiven for thinking it was a seedy kidnap thriller that just happened to have some odd characters in it; so tonally different from the other films as it is. There’s a very odd mean streak running throughout it that leaves a bad taste in the mouth.]
There are long stretches without any jokes, and when they do come they fall flat on their face with elongated gags that weren’t funny in the first place and Ken Jeong’s increasingly irritating Chow (bafflingly given more screen time here than in the two previous films) saying something racist in a funny accent. And if that fails, the filmmakers seem to think having Zach Galifianakis just on screen is funny enough; but his manchild schtick that was wearing thin by the end of the first film is threadbare now.
In fact, none of the characters are even remotely funny anymore; Bradley Cooper just swears a lot, and Ed Helms doesn’t even get to do one of his now trademark freakouts. The fun of the first film was the mystery and the reactions of the trio to events that happened the night before. This time the emphasis seems to have been placed upon making the film’s canvas bigger, at the expense of any laughs. Whereas the first film was relatively low key and the biggest it got was a tiger in the bathroom, here we have Chow parachuting off a casino being pursued by Stu in a limo. And it’s not even a funny scene.
At its most desperate the film brings back Heather Graham’s character and her son (the baby from the first film) to simply dump exposition, and perhaps remind us of when this franchise actually made you laugh – ‘We were funny once, honest.’ Still, it could have been worse; they could have wheeled out Mike Tyson again.
A comedy that’s not funny, filled with unlikeable characters, that wastes its talented comedy performers with an undercooked script and relies on the series’ reputation to pull in the punters. The two moments that made me laugh were both in the trailer. Make of that what you will.
Review by Jonathan Cardwell.
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