The Wolfpack reunite to save Alan (Zach Galiafinakis) from himself; after the death of his father, he goes completely off the rails so an intervention is called to bring him to a rehab facility. While on the way to Arizona, the gang are run off the road by Marshall (John Goodman), a gangster who kidnaps Doug (Justin Bartha) and gives the gang three days to bring Mr Chow (Ken Jeong) to him.
After the abysmal failure that was The Hangover Part II, the final instalment in the trilogy can only be an improvement, right? Well, yes. Although the magic of the first film is still lacking, turning away from the formulaic plot and bringing the action back across the Pacific was a wise choice.
This time out, the characters have actually developed slightly; OK, Alan has turned into even more of a monster, but at least this is growth. Bradley Cooper as Phil is still foul mouthed and brash, but at least he admits that he cares for his friends and Stu… Stu is the same as always, except he doesn’t manage to lose a tooth or get a face tattoo this time, that’s progress! Ken Jeong reprises his famous role as Mr Chow and is just as cocaine addled and insane as always, and newcomer John Goodman is nicely intimidating in his role as the villain, Marshall.
Thankfully, the story is not the same as the previous two films; instead of trying to piece together the events of the night before, the gang know where Doug has gone, who has him and how to get him back. Most of the comedy comes from Zach Galiafinakis’ deluded notion of himself – and his new relationship with Cassie (Melissa McCarthy) – and Ed Helms’ ability to make wonderfully realistic gagging noises on cue.
The story is riddled with plot holes, but it involves gold bars, a prison break and a return to Las Vegas. Ah yes, Las Vegas. Of course this is where the story would end up, but instead of having the city against them, this time Las Vegas appears to be on The Wolfpack’s side. That does not mean that they do not have to abseil down the front of Ceasar’s Palace or chase a parachuting madman across the city, but at least some of the shine is put back on Las Vegas.
Todd Phillips – and writer Craig Mazin – seem to have realised that the best comedy comes from having Chow as a source of tension, rather than an ally, and this leads to some rather silly but entertaining moments. As well as this, Alan coming off his medication leads to a wonderfully madcap opening sequence and Stu finally makes a bad decision in the closing credits. However, changing the formula means that The Hangover Part III is more of an action comedy thriller than a straight up comedy, and the murderous and dark tones of the film do sap some of the laughs… And the laughs are mostly giggles, not belly achers.
In all, The Hangover Part III is a step up from it’s immediate predecessor, but a step down from the original. Stepping away from the formula made this film stronger – as did returning to Las Vegas – but this is a wholly unnecessary sequel; it does not tell us anything new, and simply unties strings tangled in the second instalment. Bradley Cooper still looks great though.