With Alan (Galifianakis) off his meds and doing badly, the rest of The Wolf Pack decide its time to take him to get treatment. On the way theyre accosted by some criminals from their past and forced to face off with the dreaded Chow (Jeong).
If there’s one thing of which you can’t accuse The Hangover Part III, it is reverting to formula. It almost seems a challenge from Todd Phillips: “You thought Part I and II were the same? How about something that’s nothing like them?” Where the last film faced (fair) charges of simply being a do-over of Part I, this final part rejects all the familiar beats — the blackout, the violent gross-out humour, the desecration of Ed Helms’ face — and starts over. There’s not even a hangover. It is both a stylistic new beginning and a neat conclusion to the story, tying up loose ends you didn’t even know were dangling. The question is whether people come for a character wrap-up, or the daft fun they had first time round? Because this isn’t so concerned with the latter.
Phillips hasn’t really made a comedy here. That’s not because he’s written jokes that don’t land; it’s that a lot of the movie isn’t played for laughs. It’s less a buddy comedy than a convoluted heist movie with a surreal bent. This time The Wolf Pack is found by the people who sold Alan (Zach Galifianakis) drugs in Vegas, who have now been ripped off by Chow (Ken Jeong), whom they must find, along with his stolen gold, or Doug (Justin Bartha) will be shot.
Despite covering more ground than the first two films — Thailand, Las Vegas and Mexico all get a visit — there’s a smaller, almost indie feel. It’s back alleys and dive bars rather than penthouse suites and tourist traps. Problems are solved with guns, not monkeys. If the previous two stages of hangover were confusion then delirium, this is the bit where you brood in a darkened room.
With reduced noise around them, the reliance on the central three is stronger than ever, and Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms and Galifianakis are now so gelled that there’s pleasure in just watching them bicker. That’s not true of Jeong, still giving it full fruitloop when everything else is… half fruitloop. It’s a discordant muddle of a group. It’s a discordant muddle of a film.
Tonally a complete departure from the rest of the series, which is at once laudably brave and disappointingly unfunny.