How, to paraphrase John McClane, can the same shit happen to the same guys thrice? In fairness, The Hangover Part III isn’t quite as copy-‘n’-paste as Part II (all the 2009 original’s gags reheated with some Thai seasoning). For one, there’s no actual hangover.
Still, soon enough it’s déjà vu all over again, with the Wolfpack drawn once more into Mr Chow’s (Ken Jeong) demented orbit as they embark on a(nother) hectic quest to rescue Doug (Justin Bartha, reprising the most thankless role in modern comedy).
Eventually, the road leads back to Vegas (via Tijuana) and a second attempt to ruin Caesar’s Palace. Heather Graham’s back. So’s the baby in the sunglasses (same kid actor, in fact). Missing in action: laughs.
It’s not that Todd Phillips’ film isn’t funny; it’s that it doesn’t try to be funny. This isn’t a really a comedy – it’s more a road trip cum heist movie with some incidental humour. Melissa McCarthy is a welcome addition to the series, but 50 per cent of her performance is in the trailer. Ken Jeong gets a lot to do, but mostly overdoes it.
And our heroes? Alongside the main gold/guns/John Goodman (generically menacing as a Chow-chasing kingpin) plot, H3 is driven by Alan (Zach Galifianakis), off his meds and in need of help.
Sure, Alan’s the most interesting one, but putting all the eggs in one basket case does no favours for the bromantic chemistry. Too often, alpha-male Phil (Bradley Cooper) and panicky Stu (Ed Helms) are reduced to looking on while their oddball buddy does or says something else random.
Galifianakis does hairy manchild better than anyone since Robin Williams, but third time around (fourth if you count Phillips’ Due Date), he’s starting to feel stuck in his schtick.
Still, there is at least one scene that rekindles the first film’s energy and hilarity; it’s just a shame it doesn’t rock up until the end credits are rolling.
Less abrasive than Part II, but lacking any of Part I’s freshness, this is the most lacklustre return-to-Vegas, trilogy-closing caper since Ocean’s Thirteen.