As soon as the Warner Bros. logo comes up, and the dark foreboding music starts, we understand immediately that The Hangover Part III is going to be nothing like the previous films that came before it. There are laughs to be had, but this time every action will have a consequence, and even our main characters are expendable this time. Director Todd Phillips has taken the characters we know and love and put them in a situation that even they might have regrets about later.
As the story opens, Alan (Zach Galifianakis) is off his meds and out of control, coming to a head with the death of his father (Jeffrey Tambor). Doug (Justin Bartha), Stu (Ed Helms), Phil (Bradley Cooper), and their wives decide that the time has come for an intervention to get him help. They all decide on a place called New Horizons in the middle of the desert.
On the way, they are ambushed by Marshall (John Goodman), a mobster in a jam. The crazy Leslie Chow (Ken Jeong) has escaped from prison in Bangkok and owes Marshall $21 million in stolen gold. Not only does Marshall want it back, but he also believes that the “Wolfpack” has the best chance of finding him. Taking Doug as collateral, Phil, Stu, and Alan have exactly three days to find Chow and bring him in before he kills Doug.
This time the journey will take them from Tijuana, to the Mexican desert, and back to Vegas to track Chow down. As funny as the comedy is, there is a sense of true darkness throughout the entire picture. No one is safe this time, and the risks become increasingly more dangerous as the picture progresses.
Still, as dark as some of these scenes are, there are still many laughs to be had. Phillips keeps a fine balance in keeping this Hangover in check for the most part. Melissa McCarthy steals the show in her two brief scenes, and Alan’s moment with Heather Graham’s baby from the first movie goes from being uncomfortable to touching in less than a minute. It’s a nice touch. It also helps that, like the first film, there is an eclectic mix of music heard on the soundtrack – something that couldn’t be said about Part II.
Unfortunately, the climax leaves something to be desired. The previous installments had natural climaxes that worked well, but considering that this film is being promoted as the “epic finale,” we should expect something more. It’s not as if the climax is anti-climatic, but considering what comes before, you’d expect something much more epic.
Still, the actual finale of The Hangover Part III gives the series some actual closure. Without giving anything away, the ending is smart. Although it gets more serious by its end, Phillips is smart to remind us that his sense of humor has not gone out the window. Just when you think it has, the final scene of the credits satisfies the fans of the first film by showing us just how outrageous it can finally get.
So How Does The Hangover Part III compare to other films directed by Todd Phillips?
The Hangover Part II even at its funniest levels is and will always be a mediocre effort. When you have a film that is exactly the same as its original beat by beat, sometimes it works better (like in the case of Home Alone 2: Lost in New York), but usually it doesn’t. As one call tell, Part III is a big step up from the previous film, so Part III leaves Part II in the dust.
I have a lot of admiration for Road Trip, but even at times one must admit that it is a sophomoric effort from Phillips. The Hangover Part III might be a darker effort than previous Hangover films, but Part III is a stronger effort than Road Trip. Some might disagree with this sentiment, but I’d take a dark journey with the Wolfpack over a journey for a videotape any day of the week.
Old School is a fun good time from beginning to end, with an appealing cast and a lot of funny moments, but oddly enough, the enjoyment factor of Part III is about the same as Old School’s In fact, Jeremy Piven’s character is close to the equal of Leslie Chow in Part III, but Chow is a little more fun than Piven. It’s a close call, but Part III just squeaks by Old School.
This is a tough match-up this time. With Part II, it would be no contest, but with Part III, it presents a different challenge. It almost gives it a kind of a run for its money, but it’s not quite strong enough to overtake it. It seems that because Part III is a darker tale than the film that started this series, it’s appeal might be a little more limited than how I’ve made it sound. The new film is simply not as good as the original, and it’s also not as funny. The streak of Part III ends with the original Hangover coming out the victor.
So where does The Hangover Part III end up on my Flickchart?
The Hangover Part III ranks #1298 out of 3775 movies on my Flickchart. While not quite as good as the original, it’s a huge step-up from the last one. Despite how dark it might get at times, those not expecting much will be rewarded with a lot of surprising laughs throughout.
Ever since the release of Sweeney Todd five years ago, I’ve been worried about the future of Tim Burton. Sweeney Todd was yet another bid of hopeful Oscar consideration on his part that sadly went unnoticed, and with his last film Alice in Wonderland, I decided to just avoid it. It never interested me all that much, and at the time I had never done that ever to Burton. With his newest film Dark Shadows, I was actually looking forward to it, thinking it could be a return to form for Burton (I got a vibe of Beetlejuice almost immediately), and the biggest surprise for me: It’s actually a really entertaining black comedy. Read the rest of this entry »
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