Cast: Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms, Zach Galifianakis, Ken Jeong, John Goodman, Justin Bartha, Heather Graham, Melissa McCarthy, Mike Epps
Running time: 100mins
The lowdown: Third time’s unfortunately not the charm as the Wolf Pack returns for one more howl at the moon. Marginally better than the cynical remake that was Pt II, director Todd Phillips jettisons the “lost night” mysteries of the previous movies for a heist thriller that is big on expensive action set-pieces, low on fun. The gang all return, joined by alumni from the first two movies and John Goodman adds heavyweight menace as a rival to Ken Jeong’s returning Mr. Chow. But, it’s time for everyone to pop a couple of aspirin and shake this hangover for good.
The full verdict: A golden rule of comedy is that expensive doesn’t equal funny. And with a $100m price tag, The Hangover III is expensive.
Not that the money isn’t up there on the screen – an opening prison riot-cum-jail break is followed by a freeway pile-up courtesy of a giraffe/bridge altercation spoiled in the trailer.
Elsewhere, there is a car chase, a Thomas Crown Affair style heist, a Mexico-set second act, and a spectacular paraglide above the casinos of Las Vegas.
What’s gone missing this time around is any sense of playfulness in a script seemingly bought and rewritten to become a Hangover movie, with not one, not two, but three coldblooded killings.
And while not a Xerox of the original movie, Phil, Stu and Alan (Cooper, Helms and Galifianakis) are once again forced on a barmy mission to find Mr. Chow (Jeong) when John Goodman’s crime lord kidnaps Wolf Pack fifth wheel, Doug (Bartha, who must have Hollywood’s worst agent as he takes the thankless role a third time).
A road movie in which no-one emerges any the wiser, The Hangover Pt III makes the fatal mistake of placing all its emotion into Galifianakis’ charmless, moronic Alan. Boorish, unappealing and without any redeeming humour, Galifianakis’ character poisons the movie from within.
Elevating all this from one-star redundancy is Ken Jeong’s anarchic turn as dangerous agent of chaos, Chow, who turns the film into a cross country trip with Heath Ledger’s Joker.
Unfortunately, Jeong’s gleeful performance isn’t matched by Cooper or Helms’ been-there-before performances, and as per the previous two Hangovers the women, including the returning Heather Graham and new girl Melissa McCarthy, exist solely to move the plot from A to B.
The lasting impression is that director Todd Phillips is auditioning for action thriller gigs, with a break into Mr. Chow’s Caesar’s Palace strobe-lit orgy being a rare diverting moment.
And while there is a hangover to be had, it’s located in the closing credits, by which time everyone will realise the party’s well and truly over.