Let’s hope that this movie is the much-needed stake in the heart to the triligization of popular movies (okay, with an exception for Richard Linklater’s “Before” series and “Toy Story”). I began to think of the three films as a shell game, with the pea of novelty and humor under just one shell, and shrinking retrospectively as I was dragged through this far distant last in the series, so entirely disappointing that it diminishes any fond memories of the original.
And that is the key word. The first chapter was original. We got to enjoy the speculation and schadenfreude as we lived a night of mostly unintentional debauchery and mayhem backwards. Feral man-child Alan (Zach Galifianakis), cynical Phil (Bradley Cooper), and mild-mannered Stu (Ed Helms), a hapless trio, in Las Vegas for a bachelor party, wake up in the mother of all mornings after and spend most of the movie piecing together the events of the evening before. They have to discover how they ended up with a tiger, a baby, a missing tooth, and a hospital bracelet. And the prospective groom is missing.
In #2, there’s another wedding to make in time, and another morning after. Some people found the second one a garish and cynical retread. I thought it was pretty funny and even managed to find some meta-commentary in the way it rang changes on the first one. And I liked Paul Giamatti.
In #3, director Todd Phillips and Craig Mazin (the execrable “Identity Thief”) take over script duties from the original’s writers, who were off plagiarizing themselves with a college-age version of the very same movie. This one jettisons the backwards-style structure, which is fine, but it plays as though they pulled it out of a slush pile and did a global search and replace to insert the first movie’s characters, who, in one of many increasingly less funny repetitions of almost-jokes we’ve increasingly tired of, are referred to by one character as The Wolf Pack.
Once again, they are separated from Doug (Justin Bartha), who is held hostage by a thug (John Goodman) while they are sent to track down their old frenemy, Leslie Chow (Ken Jeong). We also meet up with the first episode’s characters drug dealer Black Doug and former stripper Jade (the criminally misused Mike Epps and Heather Graham). And here is what we learn:
1. These are really unpleasant people. They are selfish, childish, and uninteresting.
2. A little of Leslie Chow is better than a lot.
3. It is impossible to make the same joke funny three times in a row. The second time may provide a pleasant sensation of remembered humor. The third time is just irritating.
4. It is possible to criminally underuse even John Goodman, completely wasted here.
5. Melissa McCarthy, on the other hand, while also underused, manages to make her five minutes the highlight of the film.
6. It is possible to miss Mike Tyson.
This movie is the bad hangover from the now-tarnished original.
Parents should know that this film includes comic and more serious violence including murder, guns, chases, characters and animals in peril, injured, and killed, extensive drug content, constant very strong language, sexual references (some crude) and situations (male and female nudity), pervasive very bad behavior
Family discussion: Which of the friends makes the best choices? Do you think that the different structure of the story-telling works as well as the original?
If you like this, try: the first “Hangover” movie and “Cedar Rapids”