The Wolfpack is back in the third and final installment of The Hangover franchise. You would think after the last two films that there would be not much more in the way of shenanigans these guys could partake in, but clearly director/writer Tom Phillips had other ideas.
Our premise revolves around the lads Phil (Bradley Cooper), Stu (Ed Helms) and Alan (Zach Galifianakis) getting caught up in the criminal underworld again when Doug (Justin Bartha) ends up kidnapped by kingpin Marshall (a larger than life John Goodman) who holds him for ransom in exchange for recently escaped prisoner Mr Chow (Ken Jeong) and the $21 million Chow fleeced off Marshall. Of course, Mr Chow will not be easy to find or nab and this then results in high jinks and varying degrees of hilarity whilst our three moronic heroes try to save their friend.
Overall this film does a better job than its direct predecessor, however it’s not quite as good as the first film in the originality stakes. If you’re familiar with the previous movies you would of course know that Alan is clearly deranged, and generally for most of this film he remains as irritating and frustrating as before. I can’t tell whether his stupidity and mental illness is supposed to be funny though because there are instances where you laugh *at* him but the moments where you cringe are on the increase.
You would also think that his friends Stu and Phil would have ditched him, particularly after being repeatedly drugged by him and ending up in all sorts of trouble, but they stick together for the good of the pack (and to save Justin Bartha’s Doug from the minimal amount of screen-time he suffers). The biggest laughs though come courtesy of Mr Chow but again this often toes the line of casual racism and offensive jokes rather than genuine hilarity so it can be hard to tell the different between funny and hateful. There are instances where it dips into completely distasteful moments too; the giraffe scene in the first few minutes was particularly disgusting and low-brow. I would like to think that the scriptwriters could’ve come up with something slightly less cruel to indicate just how irresponsible Alan is.
On the upside the film uses an incredible soundtrack beneath the story. In key scenes, key parts of the dialogue will tie in with the songs played, and we’re treated to a wide variety of artists including Billy Joel, NIN, Kanye West and Danzig to name a few. Another surprising feature is Phillips’ use of cinematography, with many unexpectedly beautiful scenery shots.
We’re taken back to where it all began in Las Vegas, with long panoramic shots of the Strip and its dazzling lights, or Tijuana Mexico and its combination of dark seedy bars against sunburnt deserts with sandstone villas perched atop the hillside.
All in all The Hangover Part 3 manages to redeem itself after the disappointing second film. The characters as an ensemble manage to provide mostly equal levels of laughs and cringes, and the underlying theme which I guess runs through it is a sense of brotherhood. Just remember to check your sensibilities at the door before you take a seat and try to enjoy the ridiculous ride.
THREE STARS (OUT OF FIVE)
The Hangover Part 3 opened nationally today.