Summarizing the plot of a movie like Hangover 3 is a little pointless. Let’s face it, the plot is pretty much here just to get us from one joke to the next and to throw in some hijinks along the way. So Alan’s (Zach Galifianakis) been off his meds for six months, which causes typical Alan behavior which leads to the death of his father due to a stress-induced heart attack. The Wolfpack is called in to help stage an intervention, and Alan agrees to go to rehab in Arizona if Doug (Justin Bartha), Phil (Bradley Cooper) and Stu (Ed Helms) will drive him there. On the way, they’re kidnapped by a kingpin named Marshall (John Goodman) who’s looking for a fresh-from-escaping-Thai-prison Chow (Ken Jeong). Marshall keeps Doug (of course) and sets Alan, Phil and Stu free to find Chow and bring him back to swap him for Doug.
That’s pretty much the gist of it.
If it sounds familiar that’s because these films have never made it huge point to stray from the formula. The second entry is nearly a carbon copy of the first, but while this one goes slightly farther off the reservation, poor Doug is still missing for much of the film and they’re chasing Chow yet again. If you loved the first two, don’t worry, you’ll feel right at home with number three.
While there are laughs scattered throughout, there are a few things that standout. The first is the funeral scene leading into the intervention. Galifianakis is on point and plays off Cooper and Helms, as he does so well, making it feel like the movie was getting off to a good start with the comedy firing on all cylinders. The second is a running gag through most of the film where Alan is always ragging on Stu. It’s one of the few things that works consistently throughout, almost always scoring laughs. The last is a sequence featuring the baby from the first film grown up to a boy of 4 or 5 years old. It has some nice call backs and a few laughs, but it’s also a somewhat touching sequence. That makes it feel a bit out of place with the rest of the film, but in a good way.
There’s also a high flying sequence that takes two of our beloved characters to the roof of Caesar’s Palace. Yes, again. This time instead of finding Doug asleep and sunburned, they have to construct a rope and climb down to one of the penthouse suites. Of course things don’t quite go as planned. It’s a fun, semi-thrilling sequence and though there was surely some effects work done, it’s much higher quality than the movie’s awful opening scene which features Alan driving a giraffe home in a trailer hitched to his Mercedes.
Giraffe’s are tall, highway overpasses are often not, so there’s a bit of an issue. The biggest problem with this scene is the CGI giraffe. It’s laughable. The CGI work looks like the producer’s kid was given 15 minutes and a 10-year-old laptop loaded with MS Paint to make the magic happen.
As for the broader problems, Helms and Cooper were capable in the first two films, but they are sadly relegated to the back burner here. Hangover Trois is pretty much the Alan and Chow show where Phil and Stu simply fill in when and where they can. Helms is particularly underutilized, and it’s to the film’s detriment. As funny as Galifianakis is, his character works best when he’s playing off the other two. That’s where the real comedy can be found. Unfortunately, the film relies on Alan too much and the result is a mixed bag, sometimes earning laughs and sometimes falling flat.
The other half of that coin is Chow. Much though I love Ken Jeong, his Chow schtick is really starting to wear thin by this point. His huge chunk of screen time is another element that drags the movie down. While Galifianakis can almost hold his own, Chow’s comedic batting average is much lower. He lands a few funny lines but it’s not enough to carry the film.
With any comedy, the biggest questions are whether it made you laugh and if it was consistently funny. While the answer to the first is most certainly yes, the answer to the second is more middle of the road. It seemed like about half of the jokes in the film hit while the other half landed with a soft thud. Still, if you found things to like in the first two Hangovers, it seems safe to say you’ll also find a few things to laugh about in #3.
The Upside: Earns several laughs, nice to see the gang back together again
The Downside: Not consistently funny, problematic letting Alan and Chow lead the film
On the Side: Galifianakis took an elderly lady friend to the premiere. She used to be homeless but he found her an apartment that he pays for her to live in.