Review: "The Hangover Part III" Is Nothing But Jokes You've Heard Before

Review: "The Hangover Part III" Is Nothing But Jokes You've Heard Before

Review by Ross Scarano (@RossScarano)

Director: Todd Phillips
Stars: Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms, Zach Galifianakis, Ken Jeong, Heather Graham, Jeffrey Tambor, Justin Bartha, John Goodman
Running time: 100 minutes
Rating: R
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Score: 4/10

What makes you laugh? Are you tickled by jokes caricaturing Asian people, about how they speak English with an obnoxious accent and spit impolitely? Can you not help yourself when a man does something totally out of pocket, like show an unacceptable amount of affection toward another man, or indicate interest in a large woman? Might you be interested in a joke about Jews? If you’ve answered yes to any of the above, you could enjoy The Hangover Part III, starring Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms, Justin Bartha, and Zach Galifianakis as a bunch of characters you’ve seen before.

You saw them in The Hangover, in which a Vegas bachelor party goes wild, and the gang can’t remember what trouble they got mixed up in. And you saw them again in The Hangover Part II, in which a Thai bachelor party goes wild, and the gang can’t remember what trouble they got mixed up in. They’re reuniting for the third and, if the marketing is to be believed, final part of the trilogy because of an intervention—no hangover to speak of here—for Alan (Galifianakis) that goes wrong when Ken Jeong’s Leslie Chow comes on the scene. Alan is a spoiled child of a man, a chaotic and fluid presence who can function as the butt of a gay joke (why would a man touch another man's face?), a joke about uncool pop culture (Billy Joel), a joke about affluence (buying a giraffe), and a joke that’s simply absurd (the giraffe bit again). His friends and family organize an intervention after a death in Alan's family. The death provides one of the few jokes that you can laugh at in good conscience. Unless you’re particularly sensitive about parents dying.

Comedy with any edge whatsoever is capable of offending any given member of the audience. If, say, you’re sensitive about a father dying of a heart attack in front of his family, you might not laugh at a moment in The Hangover Part III that I found funny. Conversely, if you love a “no homo” moment, a joke in The Hangover Part III about how weird it is that a male character might want Bradley Cooper to take his shirt off should have you chuckling where I was quiet. The joke wasn’t offensive, it’s just tired. It doesn’t work like the jokes made about Tobias Fünke's sexuality on Arrested Development. On Arrested, when David Cross’ character Tobias makes a comment to which you can add “pause,” the joke is that the viewer and the other characters on the show all realize something that Tobias is oblivious to. You’re not laughing because he’s gay, you’re laughing because of his inability to hear how he sounds.

In The Hangover Part III, you’re asked to laugh at the idea of a person being gay (though the film won’t commit to any of the characters actually being gay—both Alan and Chow make homoerotic comments, but are then surrounded by prominent indicators of heterosexuality—it’s either lazy or gutless). In the case of the Chow character, you’re asked to laugh at the idea of a person being Asian.

Beyond that, the film has a parade of jokes you’ve heard before. Someone sings at a funeral in an outrageous and improbable manner. A character quips about the magic of cocaine in a way you can’t possibly be surprised by. When faced with an unexpected development, characters will take a classic response like “What the fuck?!” and zest it up by adding the word “oh.” This is one of the stalest comedy screenplays in recent memory, and you can watch a bunch of actors with proven skill phone it in.

If you’re into that, give The Hangover Part III your money.

Review by Ross Scarano (@RossScarano)

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