The wolfpack is back and so is Vegas. But comedy sequels are hard to pull off. The jokes can feel too similar. (See carbon–copy Part Two that left audiences with a case of déjà vu.)
For Part Three, writer/director Todd Phillips vowed to stir things up so the plot doesn’t center on yet another hangover. (Yay!)
After Alan (Zach Galafianakis) mistakenly—and not really all that funnily—decapitates a giraffe under a low underpass, the gang stages an intervention to help him (finally) grow up. Then John Goodman shows up, kidnapping Doug (the one who never goes along) and threatens to off him unless they find… Leslie Chow (Ken Jeong). Turns out, the criminally insane Chow stole $21 million in gold bars, which funded his stint in Bangkok (the setting for Part Two).
With only 72 hours, Phil (Bradley Cooper), Stu (Ed Helms) and Alan are off to find Chow, the great and powerful, which is certainly a mouthful, but is it funny? Or even meant to be? There's more going on here than just R-rated pranks.
If nothing else, Part Three is one heck of detour for the series…
Five Things to Know Before Getting Your Laugh On:
1. Back to Vegas, Time to Cash In: The first Hangover was the ultimate raunchfest. Throughout the series the wolfpack continued partying for yet another night they wouldn't recall, pretty much consequence-free. (Even Stu's face tattoo has been removed for Part Three.) Those expecting more of the same are in for a rude awakening. Early in his career, director Phillips made a scathing documentary about fraternities so we're pretty sure this sobering up is intentional. There are still moments of outlandishness, but often the punchlines sting rather than tickle.
2. Fun Supporting Players. Don't Bang Your Head Against a Rental Car Wondering Who Makes an Appearance: A reunion with Stu's former bride, Jade (Heather Graham) also means seeing the little guy! One of the highlights is Alan's heart-to-heart with the once baby-bjorned "Carlos." Another bonus: Melissa McCarthy as Cassie, a pawnshop owner.
3. Chow, and How: Though he's always had a tenuous relationship with the wolfpack, getting to see more of him makes sense for this outing. A mansion scene with dogs and other security measures comes close to the humor of the first film, but as mentioned earlier, it's less a comedy and more a coming of age tale for 42-year-old Alan. And who better to wake him from complacency than a dude who does bad things because it's funny?
4. Alan's Story: A Very Special Hangover: In case this isn't evident, we'll spell it out for ya, Part Three while engaging with solid performances and first rate-production value (most notably, a trek down the top of Caesars Palace via bed sheets) ain't much of a comedy. This isn't the first time a series has changed gears. The first Alien is all horror while the sequel, Aliens, was more action-oriented. Maybe this was Phillips' way of avoiding the problems of the first sequel. If anything, his ambition is admirable.
5. Is This the End? If this is the last Hangover, Alan's journey feels complete. Oh, and at the very end there is a pretty funny Hangover One-type gag. Proving they can be funny when they want to be.
Seeing Part Three this weekend? Do you care that the tone has changed? Sound off in the comments!