***THIS REVIEW WAS ORIGINALLY POSTED HERE FOR THE HOLLYWOOD NEWS ON MAY 23RD, 2013***
Director: Todd Phillips.
Starring: Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms, Zach Galifianakis, Ken Jeong, Justin Bartha, John Goodman, Melissa McCarthy, Heather Graham, Mike Epps, Sondra Currie, Jeffrey Tambor.
Running Time: 100 minutes.
Synopsis: With Alan (Zach Galifianakis) off his meds, the Wolfpack form an intervention. On the way to rehab, the consequences of the first two films catch up with them as they find themselves the missing link to get the intimidating Marshall (John Goodman) to his goal – a certain Leslie Chow (Ken Jeong).
Todd Phillips’ first two booze-fuelled bouts of cinematic amnesia may have grossed over $1 billion worldwide, but 2009’s THE HANGOVER never screamed with trilogy potential. The gang’s all here, but you sense they’re ready to leave the fun behind. And so, it turns out, are we.
Mixing up its inherent formula, PART III once again sidelines Doug (Justin Bartha), with the boys in pursuit of Chow after he stole from angry businessman, Marshall – yes, that Marshall. With so much of what’s gone before passing without consequence, it’s a brave move to tie-in the fallout, but this was never a serious franchise to begin with, leaving the balls to the wall manhunt formula sorely missed. With a not so subtle JURASSIC PARK reference during Alan’s giraffe-based motorway opening (one of the film’s many green screen distractions), Phillips’ nods to big budget actioners lay the groundwork for a big adventure, but this final swansong never quite delivers.
Continuing its tradition of slick opening montages, the brazen and infamous Chow is reintroduced in INDIANA JONES style after a SHAWSHANK-esque escape that sets him on another farcical path of pandemonium. As the trio race to save Doug from serving as Marshall’s collateral, there’s genuine fear as to who will go out in a blaze of glory, especially in a moment of Vegas rooftop madness. Unsurprisingly, Alan is at the centre of the more questionable moments. His schtick runs thin at times, but an assertive chat he has with the Wolfpack towards the close while donning a suit is priceless. It’s still a little uneasy how much we’re laughing at a character with such severe mental problems, but this becomes a story of growth for Alan, with the inclusion of Melissa McCarthy’s Cassie a welcome grace note played far more naturally than expected.
With so much Chow to chew on, enjoyment of PART III will come down to personal preference. It’s safe to say he’ll ruin Johnny Cash for many, but the trilogy wouldn’t be the same without his iconic, profane one-liners and naked monkeying around. Cooper continues to make things look easy and Helms remains fun as the constant butt of the joke, but appreciation will be ruled by how much love there is for this far more Jeong-centric Chow-down. Never trying to outdo previous installments, PART III is notably quieter (and arguably darker), but Phillips and Mazin’s script lacks inspiration and relies heavily on its cast to deliver the goods. There’s giggles galore, but big laughs courtesy of Helms, Galifianakis and Jeong are few and far between when a lot of the funniest material is already in its trailers.
Self-referential from a mattress thrown during the opening credits’ prison riot to a reunion with Carlos, fans will be entertained but will wish for a better payoff. A final Kanye-set flashback will bring big smiles, but it’s all a little underwhelming, ultimately. A nonevent conclusion kept afloat by its Easter eggs, there’s fun to be had, but you’ll be left desperately wanting a film revolving around its hilarious post credit sting.