Director: Todd Phillips
Cast: Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms, Zach Galifianakis, Ken Jeong, Heather Graham, Jeffrey Tambor, Justin Bartha, John Goodman, Sasha Barrese, Gillian Vigman, Jamie Chung
Release Date: May 24th, 2013
I know that I’ve been a movie critic for a while when I think fondly back to a time when The Hangover series had potential. Yes, the original film had its flaws—some obnoxious jokes and a few dislikeable characters—but it was still funny. It was, in fact, surprisingly funny. Introducing us to the Wolfpack, the original was a pleasant cinematic surprise in the summer of 2009. But four years later, the buzz that the original created has long since vanished and all that’s left is a headache-inducing sequel that will leave viewers with only regrets.
The strength of the original was its quirky comedy, its intriguing set-up and its comic characters. Its sequel faltered because the filmmakers merely attempted to replicate its predecessor without adding anything to it. The third feature fails because it’s deplorable. It lacks substance, style and any sense of civility.
The story picks up with the 42-year old Alan (Zach Galifianakis) still living with his parents. He’s stopped taking his medication and has recently made the news because a giraffe he adopted was accidentally decapitated by a highway overpass. (Who would give this guy such an animal is beyond me.) Alan’s father soon passes away from the horror of it all and the Wolfpack is once again reunited both at the funeral and soon thereafter at an intervention, which ends with high school teacher Phil (Bradley Cooper), dentist Stu (Ed Helms) and consistent victim Doug (Justin Bartha) driving Alan off to a nice-sounding facility for people like him.
Of course, that’s when insanity ensues and the four friends are tasked with finding the psychotic Mr. Chow (Ken Jeong) or—and this has become obvious by now— they will never see Doug again.
This movie quickly sheds the pretext of comedy and shows these deplorable and obnoxious characters as they are. With little comedy, viewers are left watching a once-interesting concept self-implode. It used to be easier to overlook the arrogance and cold-heartedness of this motley crew but now, their obnoxious flaws are completely obvious. These people are jerks. There is nothing redeeming about most of them.
As for the screenplay itself (written by director Todd Phillips and Craig Mazin), it is a lesson in how not to write comedy. Gone are the funny one-liners. Instead, the writers fill the movie’s 100-minute running time with jokes about animal cruelty. (I wish I was kidding here.) In addition to a decapitated giraffe, there is a scene where chickens are violently killed and someone mentions that one of the characters snapped the necks of several dogs. One of the characters references PETA as if political incorrectness alone would merit a chuckle or two. It doesn’t. That simply serves to show viewers how desperate this story has become.
It’s hard to say where this series so derailed. I have fond memories of watching the original and actually laughing. Those memories have quickly been overshadowed by the two useless sequels that followed.
If the original film was like a party itself (a good time), its sequel was like an after-party that never fully measures up and the third film is like an actual hangover. While you’re watching it, you can’t wait until it’s over and by its conclusion, you wonder if the first party was really worth attending it if it spawned such horrendous side effects.
Review by: John Hanlon