By Dan Metcalf
Clipper Film Correspondent
The Hangover Part III (Warner Bros.)
Rated R for pervasive language including sexual references, some violence and drug content, and brief graphic nudity.
Starring Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms, Zach Galifianakis, Justin Bartha, Ken Jeong, John Goodman, Melissa McCarthy, Jeffrey Tambor, Heather Graham, Mike Epps.
Written by Todd Phillips and Craig Mazin, based on characters created by Jon Lucas and Scott Moore.
Directed by Todd Phillips.
A lot has happened since the “Wolfpack” took America's movie screens (and Vegas) by storm in 2009. Following the disappointing Hangover Part II in 2011, hopes were high that another sequel (and hopefully last chapter) would fare a little better.
The story begins as Phil (Bradley Cooper), Stu (Ed Helms), Doug (Justin Bartha) and the rest of Doug's family stage an intervention for Alan (Zach Galifianakis), who has gone off his medication and exhibited very unstable behavior. Alan agrees to get booked into a care facility in Arizona, and his three best pals accompany him on his trip in Phil's minivan. On the way, the Wolfpack is attacked by a vicious gangster named Marshall (John Goodman), who takes Doug hostage until the guys can track down Leslie Chow (Ken Jeong). Marshall informs the guys that Chow was responsible for stealing several gold bars valued in the millions from him way back at the same time of the Wolfpack's first Vegas adventure in 2009.
Unbeknownst to the rest of the gang, Alan has been keeping in contact with Chow, who recently escaped from a Thailand prison (after being caught during the Hangover Part II adventure). Alan arranges a meeting in Tijuana with Chow, who convices the guys that he will help them out if they help his steal back the gold inside a mexican mansion he used to own. Chow double crosses the guys, and heads to Vegas. Marshall bails Phil, Stu and Alan out of a Mexican jail, giving them another chance to trap Chow. They boys head off to Vegas, get a little help from (now former) hooker/stripper Jade (Heather Graham) to locate Chow, who has been partying inside a Caesar's Palace penthouse. Along the way, Alan falls in love with a pawnshop owner named Cassie (Melissa McCarthy).
The story reaches its climax when the Wolfpack, Chow and Marshall meet in a desert showdown on the outskirts of Vegas.
I didn't expect much from The Hangover Part III, mostly because I was so disappointed in Part II, which was an exact carbon copy of the original, only more obscene. One the one hand, I was pleasantly surprised in Part III, but only because it wasn't another carbon copy. On the other hand, Part III is not as good as the first film because it's missing a lot of elements that made the original so funny. Among those elements were Part I's frenetic pace, coupled with a lot of crazy stunts one might try to remember after a wild night on the town.
Part III is more like a funnier version of gangster movie, with a lot of gangster violence. Even with a darker theme, you never get the feeling that the Wolfpack is in any real danger. The characters walk through their task to track down Chow (an international drug lord) in an almost businesslike fashion. Such ho-hum activity renders the pacing in Part III slow and tedious, unlike the other two movies.
There are a few gags that work in Part III, but you see them coming, ruining the element of surprise you got from the first Hangover. Part III also makes an attempt as faux sentimentality through a montage that comes across as sappy.
There is one scene in Part III seems more in line with the theme of the first two films. You have to stay through the middle of the end credits for that. It's sort of funny, and without spoiling too much, Stu gets another physical disfigurement (remember, he lost a tooth in The Hangover and got a Mike Tyson "face" tattoo in Part II). It may or may not be worth the wait, but it's slightly humorous, and might not be the payoff you got from the other Hangover movies.