Tuesday, May 28, 2013

The Cinema File #187: “The Hangover Part III” Review

Recently, I reviewed the film Fast & Furious 6, the sixth installment of a movie series about which I am at best casually indifferent, and in which I had not seen the majority of its prior installments. Today I am reviewing The Hangover Part III, the third in a series for which I have active contempt, and in which I only wish I skipped the prior installments. It is a common criticism of the second Hangover to accuse it of being a carbon copy of the original, so much so that a mid-credit sequence in the new one makes a joke of this by suggesting a potential fourth movie exactly the same as the first two. If indeed there is a loving God out there somewhere, this will never come to pass, and yet, while The Hangover Part III is an honest attempt to do something different, I wonder if the film would not have been better served being more of the same, as in the end, the differences are not for the better.

Fair warning, this is going to be one of those “take with a grain of salt” reviews where I can’t help but acknowledge my personal biases against it. As far as I’m concerned, Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms, and Zach Galifianakis represent a triumvirate of unfunny unparalleled even by the Farrelly Brothers’ modern day Three Stooges. Add Ken Jeong into the mix and you basically have the four horsemen of the comedy apocalypse, blighting the Earth with their special blend of Adult Swim style absurdist non-sequiter and goofball awkwardness disguised as humor until we all forget what actual comedy is, and fool ourselves into thinking they are engaging in it. They suck, is my larger point, and the extent to which you agree with this premise will effect how useful this review is to you.

So anyway, The Hangover Part III follows our usual trio of idiots blackmailed into tracking down the psychotic Asian criminal Chow in order to save the life of their friend, the boring fourth guy who always ends up the macguffin in these movies. When I reviewed Movie 43, I declared that movie to be the death of comedy, and while I (for lack of a better term) enjoyed that movie more than this one, I can’t say that about this movie, because it isn’t a comedy at all. I don’t just mean that I don’t find it funny; I mean the structure of the movie is not designed to build a comedic premise upon it. This isn’t so much a terrible comedy as it is a terrible action movie with terrible comedic elements randomly interspersed throughout. Oh, and it’s also not funny at all.

Half of the movie wants to indulge in Galifianakis’ uncomfortable improvisations, a style replacing the “yes and” connective principle with his typical brand of stream of consciousness nonsense, but the other half wants to replace the mad cap hyper reality of the first two films with a faux gritty seriousness that simply doesn’t work. Once you establish that the wacky comic relief character’s hi-jinks are the result of a diagnosable antisocial disorder or some place on the autism spectrum, it stops being funny, or would if it ever was in the first place. And the crazy adventures have now morphed into this weird action thriller pastiche with John Goodman in a completely wasted role as a mobster and Jeong’s coked up anarchist milking a character that got old two movies ago. It’s as if they started writing a Hangover sequel, quit halfway through, and just cannibalized some old unproduced screenplay for a Dolph Lundgren movie from the 80’s to fill in the gaps. Not even Dolph Lundgren, Armand Assante.

If The Hangover Part II failed by being too derivative, Part III fails by straying too far from the formula that at the very least had the potential to be funny, even if in my mind this potential was never exploited. This isn’t a case like Fast 6, where even though I’m not personally a fan, I can at least see where the typical fan of that series would be satisfied by what I consider uninteresting. I don’t see how the die hard Hangover fan enjoys this movie, unless their fandom is entirely reliant on appreciating terrible movies. I honestly can’t see who this movie would appeal to, period. It does too much, and does nothing all at the same time, and does none of it well. It’s nihilistic and uncomfortable, but not in a way that one might even call a dark comedy. This is a comedy abortion, a last sad gasp from a franchise that should never have had one sequel, let alone two

In short - fuck this movie.

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