The comedy genre can be quite difficult to execute. It takes a large amount of talent, as well as a lot of luck that it will connect with audiences. The Hangover had entire theaters of moviegoers laughing out loud throughout the feature's running time back in 2009. In 2011, The Hangover Part II received a lot of poor feedback from critics and viewers, yet it did extremely well at the box office. Fast forward to 2013, and the Wolfpack has returned for The Hangover Part III. Some will be sad that the trilogy marks the end of the series, while others will be jumping for joy that it's finally over. I found the first film to be absolutely hilarious, but it never needed any sequels. Follow-ups can be extremely difficult when it comes to this genre, but it makes it that much more exciting when a great sequel is released to a great comedy. Unfortunately, this cannot be said about The Hangover Part III, as it lacks the laughs and the charm that initially created this trilogy.
Writers Todd Phillips and Craig Mazin have taken the third motion picture into a completely different direction. There isn't a wedding or a bachelor party, although our main characters always find themselves somehow getting into trouble. Alan (Zach Galifianakis) is taken by surprise when Phil (Bradley Cooper), Stu (Ed Helms), and Doug (Justin Bartha) appear at an intervention that has been set up by his loved ones. Given his age and childish behavior, the group decides to take a road trip to an institution that can help Alan. On the way, they're kidnapped by Marshall (John Goodman). He forces the Wolfpack to get together once again in order to find Mr. Chow (Ken Jeong), who stole a lot of Marshall's gold.
My guess is that after Todd Phillips heard comments that The Hangover Part II is essentially a recycled version of its predecessor, he wanted to change the story. He did this by removing alcohol and hangovers from the equation, therefore detaching it from the realm of its predecessors completely. The only things left are the characters and the crude humor. This wouldn't be an issue, but this doesn't even feel like it should have the brand name as the 2009 original. Phillips and Mazin bend over backwards to create humor. They try way too hard to make us laugh, which ultimately feels forced. There's a constant need to over-explain jokes, which is insulting to the intelligence of the audience. This is only backed by the fact that The Hangover Part III features the same jokes over and over again. Writers Phillips and Mazin present a few gags and repeat them for long durations of time. Even if you find a joke to be funny the first time, it eventually wears out its welcome after it's cracked so many times within such close proximity. Unfortunately, the humor has taken a nosedive.
Through all of their adventures, Phil, Stu, and Alan all receive a fair amount of screen time, while Doug is usually captured or lost. In The Hangover Part III, the spread of humor is extremely uneven. Phil is left with an extraordinarily small amount of material, as is Stu, but he has slightly more screen time than Phil. The narrative's focus is held on Alan and Chow. Both of these characters have been hilarious in small doses. However, this third entry gives us an overdose of these roles. Since we're never given very much of a break from them, the pacing drags throughout the entire running time. By the time I reached the midpoint of the film, I simply wanted it to end. The Wolfpack used to be so much fun to watch on screen, but they have ultimately become generic and tiresome. It's such a shame, since they gained so much attention from moviegoers in the first one.
Unsurprisingly, The Hangover Part III makes its return to Las Vegas after traveling across the map to multiple locations. While it's nice to see the group back where it all started, the cat-and-mouse game between the Wolfpack and Chow isn't worth following for an entire movie. This would have been a more interesting conclusion if they were to have gone on their own adventure of madness and mayhem without having to capture another character. Writers Todd Phillips and Craig Mazin attempt to make every scene as over-the-top as possible with the use of Chow. The constant attempts to bring him back to Marshall become incredibly repetitive. The filmmakers try to create a quick sub-plot when Alan meets Cassie (Melissa McCarthy), who is an abusive pawn shop employee. This could have easily become a hysterical scene, but this is yet another wasted opportunity. Nearly everything about this screenplay seems wrong.
Writer/director Todd Phillips somehow managed to bring everybody back for another sequel. Bradley Cooper is criminally underused as Phil. He's primarily used for reaction shots and to look attractive in the background. This isn't Cooper's fault, but it's such a shame that he received such a small amount of dialogue. Ed Helms doesn't get the chance to shine, either. However, he receives more material than Cooper. Helms delivers a solid performance, as he delivers one of the only laughs to be had throughout the entire running time. Zach Galifianakis is over-the-top in the role of Alan as expected, although it becomes a little bit too much. At least he got me to snicker a couple of times. Ken Jeong is usually hilarious as Chow, but he has the same issue as Galifianakis. They're both over-exposed, rendering their attempts useless. John Goodman and Melissa McCarthy could have been outstanding additions to this cast, but neither of them are used to their full potential as Marshall and Cassie, respectively. Even though the screen time between the main characters isn't equal, the actors continue to have solid chemistry on screen.
The most viewers will get out of The Hangover Part III is a few chuckles. When a comedy isn't able to make its audience laugh, it means that it failed at its primary objective. This is an incredibly awkward moviegoing experience, since the filmmakers are clearly trying so hard to be funny, but it just isn't. Even though a lot of the cast is under-utilized, they continue to have excellent chemistry on screen. Regardless, I will return to my belief that the 2009 original is a standalone flick. The Hangover Part III is an absolute disappointment. If you're looking for something funny to watch with your own Wolfpack this weekend, this isn't it. Skip it.