28 May 2013

Review: The Hangover Part III

(Dir: Todd Phillips, 2013)

To say The Hangover Part III had it's work cut out for it would be something of an understatement. It's left sitting in an awkward position of not wanting to do the same thing as the first two films whereas trying to do something different is a risky strategy. Part II's major failing was that it was the exact same plot transplanted from Vegas to Bangkok, with identical story beats and "comedic" moments. This lack of originality rendered it entirely predictable and the humour forced. It was the perfect example of how not to do a sequel and a massive unfunny failure (except of course at the box office where it reaped massive amounts of money). The first film wasn't perfect but it felt like a fresh comedy with an approach that was genuinely intriguing whilst leveraging some great comedic moments.

Part III (wisely) takes the different approach. There are no hangovers or blacked out moments that need re-piecing together, instead it's a through story tenuously linking back to the first film, that tries to give us as much of Leslie Chow (Ken Jeong) as possible and offers new threat in the form of John Goodman's crime boss Marshall, who forces the Wolfpack into a new range of wild situations.

Although it was probably the right decision to push the story off in another direction, the chosen route doesn't really work. In fact it's quite hard work, going for bland thrills and action. The set-up that gets the group on the road makes sense, yet it's pretty boring and the story continues in this dull manner all the way until it hits Vegas somewhere after the halfway point, where it shows small glimmers of life. But only small glimmers. Vegas is where the heart of the series lies, but this ends up as yet another pale pale reminder of the first film.

Part of the problem lies with the characters. Man-child Alan (Zach Galifianakis) is more annoying than ever, and his schtick already feels done to death with Galifianakis playing variations of this character in both Due Date and The Campaign. Alan is a thin character who's finally stretched beyond breaking point in this third film. The others have become even more generic with only Bradley Cooper seemingly coming out unscathed by virtue of being the least annoying. Yes there's something vaguely comfortable about being in their presence but it's a rapidly diminishing notion. Chow's screeching mania is funny in small doses and as such worked in the original film, but has been totally over-used since then rendering it impotent.

And this is the big problem - both Alan and Chow are supposed to be the primary comic relief and the pair are rarely funny here. I managed a handful of mild chuckles throughout, but there were only two proper genuine laughs in the film, and one came in the scene during the end credits rather than the actual film! What Part III is not is funny. It's just dull blandness. The irony about the aforementioned end credit scene is that it cruelly rubs the potential for a better film in our face.

Two sequels in and it's clear The Hangover was lightning in a bottle, being that rare comedy that's genuinely funny, surprising and entertaining. But these sequels have done their best to shatter that bottle rather than preserve what it contained. Part III barely registers on the comedy scale whilst offering bland action and irritating characters at best. It's better than it's predecessor by the simple virtue of not being a straight retread. The couple of good ideas (Melissa McCarthy's small role for example) just frustratingly highlight where the film could've gone for the better. Perhaps taking a different route with the second film and heading back to a retread with the third film may have been a better approach, but either way, The Hangover series is now most definitely dead in the water.

No comments:

Post a Comment