Well, at least it’s over. And, for what it’s worth, The Hangover Part III is a more entertaining film than its immediate predecessor. But the original set the bar so high and was so unexpected, matching its success or novelty was always going to be a huge challenge.
Comedies have that cross to bear, largely because they have to be so precise to begin with — laugh here, and at that — or they’re doomed. And the first film gave us a holy trinity of unlikely road-trippers, who with every new journey become more and more familiar. It’s just harder to get the same reaction.
Things conclude where they began for Phil (Bradley Cooper), Stu (Ed Helms) and Alan (Zach Galifianakis). But the road back to Caesars Palace goes through Tijuana first, and the road to TJ begins with an intervention. Alan is off his meds and, somehow, is worse than usual. On their way to the rehab center in Arizona, the Pack is abducted by Marshall (John Goodman), a serious crime lord whose entire world was turned upside down by the trio’s first trip to Vegas and their run-in with Mr. Chow (Ken Jeong).
The demands are simple: Bring him Chow and the $21 million in gold he stole from Marshall and nobody gets killed. Cut to Tijuana and some stolen gold, fast forward to Vegas and the Caesars penthouse. It’s Chow vs. Wolfpack, and ultimately Wolfpack vs. Marshall. Pretty simple revenge plot. The individual scenes hold up well, by and large, but the laughs are stretched thin and there are long periods of nothing going from setup to setup.
In essence, it’s what you hoped a third movie would be after the second Hangover just laid there like a mail-order bride. It doesn’t add to the legacy, but at least you don’t feel stupid for liking the first one.