By: Holley Sinn
When "The Hangover" was released in 2009, it was ground-breaking because it was the highest grossing "R" rated comedy to that point. The mandate from movie studios had always been to find a way to make comedies PG-13 in order to secure a wider audience, hence, more money...but Todd Phillips' film about three guys trying to find their lost friend through a morning-after haze broke the mold. However, four years later, that formula has been tested over and over and over again...so for "The Hangover Part III" to be anything special, there would have to be something really substantial to make it stand out. And, sadly, aside from about five minutes out of an hour and forty...there's nothing more than Bradley Cooper's steely baby blues to which one can cling.
"The Hangover Part III" follows the wolf pack on a trip from L.A. to Arizona where Phil, Stu and Doug, played by Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms and Justin Bartha, are meant to deposit the psychotically narcissistic Allen, played by Zach Galifinakis, at a treatment facility. However, on their way, the men are hijacked by a mobster named Marshall, played by John Goodman, who holds Doug hostage while sending the rest of the Wolfpack in search of Chow, played by Ken Jeong, who stole over $40 million worth of gold bars from Marshall before he was sent to Thai prison.
In pursuit of Chow, the pack makes a stop in Tijuana before returning to the place where it all began - Las Vegas - where Phil and Allen must scale Caesar's Palace to trap Chow in his cocaine laced penthouse. Allen makes a love connection with a pawn shop owner played by Melissa McCarthy, and Heather Graham pops up in a quick cameo which serves to reintroduce Allen to the baby he carried around in the first film, a now four year-old who is NOT named Carlos.
The final installment of "The Hangover" series is missing a couple of things: heart and smarts. The cleverness of the original is lost in the absurdity of the plot, and the once quirky and moderately lovable Allen comes off as mean and entitled. What we all loved so much about the first film is that it could have happened. The second film was just insane...but the third film...well, it has no identity. While the focus is meant to return to the Wolfpack, there's just way too much Chow, and by some miracle, John Goodman has now accomplished doing a poor film. Could I still fall into Bradley Cooper's eyes and swim there forever? Sure. But, with the exception of three minutes buried in the credits, that's all this film really had to offer.
"The Hangover Part III" is rated "R" for language, nudity and drug references, and it opens in theaters all over the Bay area this Friday.