Review: The Hangover Part III ★☆☆☆☆

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The Hangover Part II did very well financially. It was horrible and offensive and vulgar, but it made a lot of money. Like the first film, it was sickeningly racist and homophobic, but on a bigger, nastier, more epic scale. It gave viewers a pretty good idea of what type of person director Todd Phillips is. Encouragingly, it already seems as if this final addition to one of the worst trilogies in Hollywood history (yes Warner Bros, you may put that on the poster) will make much less money than the first two. Of course, it’s a bit too early to tell, but current figures suggest that this movie won’t be a runaway success.

It’s dreadful. Perhaps not as dreadful as Part II, and a little bit more dreadful than the original. So it’s the younger child in age, the middle child on the obnoxiousness scale. And this time there is no hangover, just a group of forty-something men trying to be funny whilst engaging in the flimsiest and least exciting action-thriller narrative I’ve seen. The comedy action movie is notoriously hard to do, and considering how dire Todd Phillips is at comedy on its own, his decision to marry it up with big car chases and shoot-outs is baffling. But he does it, he fails, and nobody laughs.

In fact, there was noticeably little laughter in the screening I was in for this film. The people who seemed to have the most fun were two teenagers sat next to me. They chuckled throughout, then gave a hint to their intelligence levels when one of them laughed at the fact the leading characters visit a Pawn Shop and the other said ‘Haha, yeah, porn! Bit weird they’ve spelt it wrong on the shop sign though’.

Somewhere between spouting misogynist jokes in The Hangover Part II and making this sad little movie, Bradley Cooper managed to earn himself an Oscar nomination (for the moderately good Silver Linings Playbook). Therefore it’s a shame to see him degrading himself once again, playing the thoroughly unlikable character Phil. Ed Helms, who is also a good actor, slots back into his role as out-of-his-depth dentist Stu. Most irritating of all is Zach Galifianakis, who is given far too much screen time as Alan, a mentally ill drug user who says the crudest lines and does some of the most horrible things.

Mr ChowThe most vile thing about the film is its weird and downright disturbing obsession with animal cruelty. A giraffe is decapitated. Two dogs are drugged, then later we learn they had their necks broken. Chickens are shot and, in an extended and borderline sadistic scene, smothered to death with a pillow. People who care about animals and support PETA are mocked. Perhaps this is another indication of the type of man director Todd Phillips is, and perhaps the type of viewers the makers want this film to appeal to.

The movie also revels in violence towards humans, with brutal executions within gangs (some of which, rather oddly, feature John Goodman) treated casually. The multiple pile-up at the start of the film, caused by a drink driving Alan, is also played for big laughs. Families dying. Children being smashed up and killed, or maybe just paralysed for life. Car crashes are so fucking funny, aren’t they?!  Once again, I think we have another indication of what type of man director Todd Phillips is. There are so many clues to his character in this movie, and it makes one wonder why this man feel the need to pour so much nastiness and hatred into his films.

Phillips continues his celebration of cruelty when he portrays Alan’s bullying of his mother as a jolly good laugh. This theme develops into something even more hateful when he meets a shop worker (played, of course, by Melissa McCarthy), and they bond over their love of abusing their parents, with them both screaming insults at the woman’s elderly disabled mother.

Like the first two movies, it is amazing how quickly all the hate, the nastiness and sleaze stops being shocking and becomes just flat-out boring. The thriller plot, which involves tracking down the hideously unfunny drug dealer Mr. Chow (pictured above left, present in Parts I and II) doesn’t have enough tension. The jokes are non-existent. The hatred gets tedious. It’s very hard not to fall asleep.

In the end, one has to accept humour is a very subjective thing. As I said when I reviewed vomit-fest The Big Wedding and few weeks ago, there will be people out there who get humour out of watching a group of wealthy Americans indulging in sordid little escapades whilst shouting discriminatory jokes. There will be people who enjoy the flippant approach the filmmakers have to illegal mind-altering substances that continue to ruin lives and communities the world over. And there will be people who like a good bit of animal cruelty on a Friday night out. These people are welcome to enjoy The Hangover Part III. It is there for them. I, however, loathed it, and don’t have any problem standing up and saying this is nasty, vicious, poisonous rubbish. It has a cold and cruel view of the world and the people who inhabit it, and I am very glad the series has finally come to an end.

The Hangover Part III (2013), directed by Todd Phillips, is released in the UK by Warner Bros. Pictures, Certificate 15.

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Second year BA Film & English Student. Watches too many films and enjoys good novels.

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