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Another Hair of the Dog

MOVIE REVIEW
The Hangover Part III (2013)

The-hangover-part-iii-movie-review-bradley-cooper-ed-helms-zach-galifianakis-ken-jeong
Melinda Sue Gordon/Warner Brothers Pictures

According to the tagline, there’s no wedding and no bachelor party — which means there is no point.

O.K., there is a point; but it’s not to make a riotous comedy. Instead, "The Hangover Part III" is a heist movie, where Phil (Bradley Cooper), Stu (Ed Helms) and Alan (Zach Galifianakis) must join forces with Mr. Chow (Ken Jeong) to steal $21 million worth of gold bars from a big fancy house in the hills above Tijuana. If they don’t, an angry drug kingpin (John Goodman) will shoot Doug (Justin Bartha). They have three days!

It’s as if Indiana Jones was sent into the desert to spend five years digging trenches and carefully cataloging broken pots instead of fighting Nazis. The only laughs really come from the way Mr. Galifianakis inhabits his body as if he were a 15-year-old girl, or how Mr. Jeong (who — it must never be forgotten — was a doctor before turning to acting) is completely fearless in playing a complete psychotic who is not above singing “Hurt” on karaoke. In this movie, Mr. Cooper is not given a chance to display his talent for charming the birds from the trees; and Mr. Helms is never allowed to work himself into a full-scale panic, rendering both of their characters oddly impotent.

It’s good that director Todd Phillips, who co-wrote the script with Craig Mazin, was willing to tamper with the formula. But when you have to send Mr. Jeong paragliding across Las Vegas while screaming “I love cocaine!” you are almost certainly trying too hard.

So, ignoring the fact that this movie is not really what was expected — is it any good? It is structured and shot in a fairly basic way, with heavy-handed music cues telling us how to feel. There’s even an oddly judged little scene where Alan is reunited with the baby from the first movie, who’s of course now five. The whole movie is like that, foul-mouthed but mawkish, and unsure of the right tenor to strike. There’s less menace in guns being waved around than in Mr. Jeong’s smile. The first "Hangover" was hysterical: a superb compendium of all the worst nights we’ve ever had while still — by the skin of our teeth — being believable. This manages both to go right over the top, but also not add up to a hill of vomit.

Incidentally, Jeffrey Tambor has a very small part. The audience started laughing at him and Mr. Galifianakis together as soon as they both appeared on screen. Mr. Phillips made a major mistake in treating the character as the audience did. The whole experience would have been so much better if Mr. Tambor had come along for the entire ride like Sean Connery did as Indiana Jones’s dad. It’s not too late for them to digitally add Mr. Tambor all the way through, you know?

THE HANGOVER PART III

Opens on May 23 in the United States and Britain.

Directed by Todd Phillips; written by Mr. Phillips and Craig Mazin, based on characters created by Jon Lucas and Scott Moore; director of photography, Lawrence Sher; edited by Debra Neil-Fisher and Jeff Groth; music by Christophe Beck; production design by Maher Ahmad; costumes by Louise Mingenbach; produced by Mr. Phillips and Dan Goldberg; released by Warner Brothers Pictures. Running time: 1 hour 40 minutes. This film is rated R by M.P.A.A. and 15 by B.B.F.C.

WITH: Bradley Cooper (Phil), Ed Helms (Stu), Zach Galifianakis (Alan), Justin Bartha (Doug), Ken Jeong (Mr. Chow), John Goodman (Marshall), Melissa McCarthy (Cassie), Jeffrey Tambor (Sid), Heather Graham (Jade), Mike Epps (Black Doug), Sasha Barrese (Tracy) and Jamie Chung (Lauren).

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