The Hangover Part III presumes that you have so much love for this cast of characters that you’d watch them in any genre of film. It presumes you care or even remember what happened to these characters in the last two films, weaving together a narrative from small plot points in the first two entries. It reads like fanfiction — what if Phil, Stu, and Alan got dragged into a crime plot instigated by Mr. Chow? What if John Goodman were an angry crime boss threatening the Wolfpack with death if they couldn’t track down Chow?
Ever since the second film, The Hangover writers have put a lot of stock in how “cool” their characters are. They’re the Wolfpack, man! What started as a joke that Alan took too far has become a genuine identifier that the writers feel can hold up to a semi-serious crime story. Yes, The Hangover Part III has jokes, but they’re few and far between, and the very funniest ones were carefully plucked and featured in the preview.
This is a film about the trio fumbling around in the dark, out of place in a violent world of crime. They’re in over their head but manage to trip and fall into not dying at every turn. It’s the kind of story that you write after binge-watching all of Breaking Bad, and I can only assume that’s exactly what happened here. It was pretty clear with the first sequel that The Hangover was a one-time thing and the concept had run out of ideas, and Part III only solidifies that notion by drawing inspiration from left-field.
I don’t care about the characters in The Hangover, if you haven’t noticed. I’m not interested in their bond, nor their relationship with Mr. Chow, the painfully racist character the series refuses to let die. Sometimes comedies can have depth of character and laughs, but I come to Hangover movies simply to laugh. Considering only one of them was genuinely funny I feel like a bit of a fool. Rubbing salt in the wound, I spent maybe 45 minutes or so waiting for Part III to hit its stride and “get funny.” It was only after a solid twenty minutes without a peep from the entire theater that I realized I wasn’t actually watching a comedy.
For the few times a laugh genuinely sneaked out, it came with the recognition that the joke was only funny because it was referencing a much funnier YouTube clip or internet meme. That’s the kind of humor you expect out of cheap parody garbage like A Haunted House or the “____ Movie” series. The Hangover features Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms, Zach Galifianakis, Jeffrey Tambor, and mother fucking John Goodman. It should be above these lazy references, even if the crafted humor falls flat.
And speaking of John Goodman! His sole purpose in this film seemed to be a reminder of his role in a much better film, The Big Lebowski. It’s clear that Lebowski is the sort of dark crime comedy they were aiming for, and boy did they miss by a few million light years. I think the recently released Star Trek Into Darkness might have more in common with The Big Lebowski. It’s funnier too.
Consider this warning: I may have laughed more during Movie 43 than The Hangover Part III. This isn’t a comedy and it’s one of the more useless crime capers out there. It fails on all accounts. The budget, cast, and competent filming only add to the sense that this was all an epic waste of time and talent. Go watch The Big Lebowski, Breaking Bad, and that YouTube video of the guy who cries really weird instead, you’ll thank me later.
Here, I’ll even get you started: