Film Review: The Hangover Part III | South China Morning Post
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Film Review: The Hangover Part III

Richard James Havis

 

The Hangover Part III
Starring: Zach Galifianakis, Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms
Director: Todd Phillips
Category: IIB

 

Why would anyone choose to see The Hangover Part III? The film tries to get its laughs out of making Asians look stupid, ridiculing gays, killing animals and showing heart attacks. Judging from their uninspired performances, even the cast seems mildly embarrassed by the pathetic nature of the characters and the plot. On top of all that, the movie commits the worst sin possible for a comedy: it is not funny.

Even fans of the first two films will be disappointed, as director Todd Phillips, who co-wrote the script, jettisons the elements that made the prequels popular box-office hits. There is no actual hangover involved in the plot and the cheeky reverse storytelling structure, which had audiences guessing what had happened earlier, is gone. This Hangover is a straightforward action-caper that relies on barely adequate stunt sequences to keep it moving along. Much of the time, it appears that Phillips thinks he's directing an action film.

The story is hackneyed. Alan (Zach Galifianakis) is off his medication and irritating everyone, so the "Wolfpack" - Phil (Bradley Cooper), Stu (Ed Helms) and Doug (Justin Bartha) - stage an intervention and persuade him to enter rehab. But on the way to the facility, they are violently kidnapped by a group of thugs led by Black Doug (Mike Epps).

Black Doug's boss, Marshall (John Goodman), has a beef with Leslie Chow (Ken Jeong), a criminal from the previous two films, and thinks that the Wolfpack are just the guys to track him down. Marshall threatens to execute "White Doug" (Bartha), unless the remaining trio delivers Chow to him in three days.

Good comedy does not have to be tasteful, but this is nasty, mean and spiteful. It starts with Alan accidentally decapitating a giraffe by driving a truck under a low bridge. The decapitated head is shown in detail in a gross and unfunny scene. The kidnap sequence is brutal, with no comedic touches. Characters are killed in a gritty and casual fashion, and a bird is slowly suffocated to death with a pillow.

The film is also racist, playing up stereotypes of the Old West - which one hoped had been expunged from Hollywood cinema - of the devious and untrustworthy Chinese man. (This was also present in Part II.) There are a few racist comments and Chow, the sole Asian character, is portrayed as insalubrious and ridiculous. Actor Jeong is not even Chinese - he is an American-born Korean. It's doubtful that a Chinese actor in America would have accepted such a demeaning role today.

The success of the original Hangover started the recent trend of dumb comedy, now a staple of Hollywood cinema because the films are cheap to produce and do well at the box office. The genre is not new: Abbott and Costello as well as The Three Stooges made long careers out of being dumb on screen. The producers of these classics, however, unlike the makers of the Hangover series, could sustain the humour and characters over many films.

Which brings us to the only good point about The Hangover Part III: it's the series' final episode.

48hours@scmp.com

 

The Hangover Part III opens on June 6

 

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