The Hangover Part III
Better than the sequel but well short of the first, Hangover Part III is...an adequate finale.
Plotting the traditional structure of a film trilogy results in a sort of 'N' symbol on a graph. Part 1 (the incline) offers the introduction to the characters and concludes with a satisfying, inspirational victory (the first peak). Part 2 then explores the characters in greater depth, exposing their shortcomings and instilling both doubt and conflict until all hope seems lost (the descent and trough). Finally, Part 3 sees the protagonists discover — or at least 'relearn' — the true strength of their convictions, allowing an eventual, all-encompassing victory in the conclusion (the ultimate peak).
The Hangover trilogy, however, does not follow this structure. 2009's Part I held the line well and provided one of the surprise hits of the year courtesy of some snappy writing, extreme political incorrectness and three terrific characters (the fourth guy really is a spare). Instead of marking the descent, though, Part II just ran with the exact same formula. It was Part 1 all over again, except Bangkok was subbed in for Vegas and the baby was replaced by a monkey. So going into Part III, the big question was always going to be: would this be 'Part I again, again' or something genuinely different? The answer was the latter, which in turn begged a second question... was that a good idea?
In this third instalment, our three wolf-packers, Phil (Bradley Cooper), Alan (Zach Galifianakis) and Stu (Ed Helms), are once again forced into a nightmarish series of disasters in order to rescue their friend Doug (Justin Bartha...who really is the spare). Regrettably, The Hangover Part III centres upon the trilogy's most annoying character, Mr Chow (Ken Jeong), whose whiny, sort-of-Asian, sort-of-gay, sort-of-hip-hop-gangsta ramblings grate the ear like a screaming baby on a packed plane during descent.
During one early scene in which Chow's butchering a karaoke cover of 'Hurt', Bradley Cooper winces and asks, 'what the fuck are we watching!?' He's not the only one to think it. By focussing on Chow and favouring a more conventional plot over the simple yet effective premise of 'rediscovering unremembered anarchy', The Hangover Part III boldly — if also mistakenly — shifts the focus away from the very thing that made the franchise a success: the 'wolf pack'. They still have their moments, especially Galifianakis, but the adoption of a far more 'normal' movie structure sees the characters appear similarly interchangeable.
There are still loads of laughs and it's a definite improvement on the carbon-copy disappointment of Part II, but the tiny coda that pops up part-way through the final credits (certainly worth staying for) shows us what might have been had they just found a way to use the original amnesic plot structure in a new and different way.
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