Film review: ‘The Hangover Part III’ tries something different

Ed Helms, Bradley Cooper and Zach Galifianakis aren't hungover in "The Hangover Part III" Credit: Warner Bros. Pictures
Ed Helms, Bradley Cooper and Zach Galifianakis aren’t hungover in “The Hangover Part III.”
Credit: Warner Bros. Pictures

‘The Hangover Part III’
Director: Todd Phillips
Stars: Zach Galifianakis, Bradley Cooper
Rating: R
2 (out of 5) Globes

The second “Hangover” was the most repetitive sequel since “Home Alone 2: Lost in New York.” Every beat from the original was hit, but with superficial differences: Bangkok instead of Vegas, a monkey instead of a baby, a ladyboy instead of Heather Graham. But there’s no reason that repeating the same joke with variations should be a crime, at least if they only did it twice. They might well have done the same thing a third time, especially since “The Hangover Part III,” which absolutely breaks from formula, plays like weak fan fiction unaccountably directed by and starring those who made the original.

That said, there are stray moments of semi-inspiration. As threatened, this time there is no rohypnol-laced binge session. Our heroes — vaguely douchey Phil (Bradley Cooper), uptight closet transgressive Stu (Ed Helms) and remorseless man-child/possible pedo Alan (Zach Galifianakis) — are simply victims of what we’re told was an elaborate series of events set inextricably in motion during the first movie. (Yeah, right.) It seems that destructive hedonist/Asian stereotype Chong (Ken Jeong) stole from a fearsome mafia type (John Goodman). He assumes that the gang — sorry, Wolfpack — are the best way to find Chong and get payback.

It’s likely the series’ many fans are going to hate this threequel because it isn’t like the others and isn’t very funny. (Neither are the other two, but it’s nice that some people may catch up.) Occasional attempts at deepening the series fail, largely because the writers have tried to humanize the one character who under no circumstances should have been humanized: Galifianakis’ Alan, who ought to have become weirder and scarier, not more fragile and sad.

Honestly, none of the “Hangover” movies are great comedies. But they excel at other genres. At heart, they’re mysteries, and pretty good ones. They’re also incredibly dark. Death, perhaps a violent one, is always around the corner. “Part III” goes darker, even opening with the needless decapitation of a certain animal. Later, actual murder finally enters the franchise. Director Todd Phillips is getting better and better as a visual director of comedy, a genre that tends to treat filmmaking as an afterthought. Jokes are often told through careful framing, not performance, while he carefully allows the tone to sometimes shift to genuine danger. For about two seconds, “Part III” feels like it could end with our heroes dead. If it were actually that kind of movie, there’d be little reason to complain.



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
Local

Mayor announces public housing improvements

Mayor Bill de Blasio spoke at the Lincoln Houses in East Harlem on Wednesday, calling for the scaffolding to come down at NYCHA complexes across…

National

Peter Theo Curtis: American released by Syrian militants…

An American writer freed this week from two years in the captivity of insurgents in Syria spoke briefly outside his family's Cambridge home Wednesday of…

Local

Bratton defends 'broken windows' work as NYPD support…

Sixty percent of those polled said they support the "broken windows" theory approach popularized by Commissioner Bratton since his first term in the 1990s.

Local

Transit changes for Labor Day weekend

The MTA is adding additional service Friday for New Yorkers getting out of the city for the long weekend. On Friday, Aug. 29, 27 additional…

Television

'So You Think You Can Dance' recap: Season…

Season 11’s top four dancers gave their final performances before America’s Favorite Dancers are announced next week.

Going Out

Things to do this week in NYC, Aug.…

MUSIC The Electric Zoo Festival Aug. 29-31, 1 p.m. Randall’s Island Park $99-$369, www.electriczoofestival.com The electronic music celebration returns for a fifth year, with 150,000 attendees…

Going Out

5 things to do this weekend in NYC

The Electric Zoo Festival Aug. 29-31, 1 p.m. Randall’s Island Park $99-$369, www.electriczoofestival.com The electronic music celebration returns for a fifth year, with 150,000 attendees expected. David Guetta,…

Television

'Full House' might be relaunched with some of…

A new "Full House" might be in the works.

NFL

Mario Manningham on the bubble as Giants play…

Former Super Bowl hero Mario Manningham hopes his second go-around with Big Blue doesn’t end with Saturday’s final cut day.

NFL

Source: Stephen Hill 'faces a battle' to make…

A team source says Stephen Hill, who has battled injuries and poor performances during his first two years, is no lock to make the Jets’ final roster.

Sports

Serena Williams leaving legacy of talented American women…

It seems only a matter of when, not if, Serena Williams will win her 18th career grand slam championship.

College

When are 2014 college football playoffs? (Schedule, date,…

When and where are 2014 college football playoffs? A look at the schedule, date, TV, time for the semi-finals at championship game.

Food

Recipe: Samuel Adams beer-marinated grilled shrimp

Summer calls for two things: a cold beer and light food. Sam Adams' Latitude 48 IPA fairly bursts with citrus notes, making it an ideal marinade…

Wellbeing

Heart trumps brain when it comes to movies…

When you need a good cry, do you reach for the movie that’s “based on a true story”? Science says you’re giving your brain far…

Sex

The 10 types of people you meet online

Does it ever seem like online dating profiles tend to get a little repetitive? It turns out you are not the only one to have…

Home

Labor Day essentials

Whether you’re soaking up the sun on the beach or barbecuing in the park here are some must-haves for your end-of-summer bash.