With The Hangover Part III, director and co-writer Todd Phillips breaks with the format of the previous two films. This time, the particular mess the Wolfpack finds itself in isn't the result of a bachelor party gone wrong.
Instead, after a hilarious intervention that probably would've been even funnier had parts of it not been included in the trailer, Bradley Cooper's Phil, Ed Helms's Stu and Justin Bartha's Doug have decided to drive Alan, again played by Zach Galifianakis, to a mental health facility in Arizona. Alan has gone off his meds, and has had a series of somewhat hilarious missteps over the previous six months. One is a particularly twisted visual (a Phillips specialty) that's one of the movie's darkest and funniest moments. But for Alan, the final nail in the coffin, if you will, is when his father, Sid (Jeffrey Tambor) dies.
Even so, it's not the intervention that sets the wheels in motion here. It's actually something that transpired in the first Hangover movie. That particular thing is why bad guy Marshall, played by John Goodman, has been following the Wolfpack and decides to run them off the road on their way to Arizona and take Doug hostage. It all comes back to Ken Jeong's Chow, who stole a lot of gold from Marshall, who in turn threatens to kill Doug unless the Wolfpack delivers Chow.
Chow is problematic this time around. In the first movie, he's a brilliant character - he shows up out of nowhere and when he's on screen, he owns the moment. Too much Chow, however, dilutes his effectiveness. That's not a knock on the brilliant Jeong who, quite literally, puts it all out there in the name of comedy. Sometimes it works and works well but as was in The Hangover Part II, there's too much of him in this movie. Not to say he doesn't have his moments, but less Chow actually means more laughs when he shows up.
The Hangover Part III is supposed to be the final movie in the Hangover franchise, so let's give Todd Phillips credit for trying to accomplish the impossible. He made one of the most successful film comedies of all time and then tried to follow it up not once, but twice. Unfortunately, that's a losing battle. You buy your ticket, go in with an open mind and hope for the best, but the best certainly didn't happen in the second movie and it doesn't happen here. The good news is, The Hangover Part III is better than II and contains what actually might be the funniest moment of all three films - but you're going to have to wait until the movie is over, literally, to find out what that is.
Three out of five stars.