If you speak to just about anyone over the age of 30, they’ll tell you that hangovers get worse with age. Well, on this evidence, they’re right, as we get ready to step back into Todd Phillips’ The Hangover franchise, with the third and – thankfully – final addition to the celebrated comedy.
Having survived a series of inexplicable events in both Las Vegas and Thailand, it seems that for close friends Phil (Bradley Cooper), Stu (Ed Helms), Doug (Justin Bartha) and of course Alan (Zach Galifianakis), it’s time to settle for a quieter life, and steer clear of trouble. However, when randomly ambushed by crime lord Marshall (John Goodman), it seems that, once again, trouble has found them. Marshall has handpicked the collective to get hold of fugitive – and absolute nutcase – Mr. Chow (Ken Jeong), who stole $25million worth of gold from him. As Alan and Chow kept in touch before the former escaped from jail, Marshall believes they can track him down, and if they don’t, hostage Doug will be killed, setting the trio back on a trip to the one place they never wanted to return to again: Vegas.
It would seem that the writers Phillips and Craig Mazin have found the franchise’s key selling point, as they have amplified the character of Alan greatly, with the vast majority of the comedy deriving from his offbeat and unconventional style of humour. The comedy in the first two Hangover titles were also heavily dependent on Galifianakis’ deadpan approach, but this may as well be the Alan show.
There is a problem with this however, as the character of Alan is not the same person we were first introduced to. He has changed over the course of the three movies, and not for the better. He may still be funny, but he’s not the loveable oddball he used to be. Instead, he can be quite nasty at times, and not quite as endearing to the viewer. There is one moment when he is running through a list of crimes and felonies he has committed, and he deliberates over one in particular – the time he masturbated on public transport. Masturbated on public transport? This man is no charming and adorable rogue, he is a deranged sexual deviant that needs to seek some serious help. It’s as though the filmmakers have compromised the original character we all grew to love, simply for some rather cheap laughter.
Phillips and Mazin do remain faithful to the Hangover brand in regards to the story, as we follow a strong narrative, with various twists and turns along the way. As far as comedy capers go, this is a strong hybrid between the action and comedy genres, leading towards a great finale. Sadly the comedy side isn’t quite so strong, and doesn’t consistently provoke laughter from the audience, with the occasional chuckles too few and far between. We’re just lacking that one great scene, that one memorable moment that has you howling with laughter, that you desperately recall to your friends: something that the first had in abundance, and the second managed with the hugely quotable “When a monkey nibbles on a penis it’s funny in any language”.
Nonetheless, it’s always fun to return to this hapless trio of characters and to see what predicaments they will be caught up in this time. So as we bid farewell to Phil, Stu and Alan once and for all, though caring about the characters and remaining intrigued as to how their story will be brought to a conclusion, it’s just not quite the riotous comedy you had hoped it would be.