x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

The Hangover Part III is a braver, better movie than Part II

The creativity of this third film in the Hangover trilogy is a marked improvement over Part II.

Zach Galifianakis, Bradley Cooper and Ed Helms in The Hangover Part III, which heads in a darker direction than previous instalments. Courtesy Warner Bros. Pictures
Zach Galifianakis, Bradley Cooper and Ed Helms in The Hangover Part III, which heads in a darker direction than previous instalments. Courtesy Warner Bros. Pictures

The Hangover Part III
Director: Todd Phillips
Starring: Zach Galifianakis, Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms, Ken Jeong
****

“Daring” isn’t a word you would use to describe 2011’s The Hangover Part II, the disappointingly lazy rehash of the wildly successful original Hangover from 2009.

And yet, here we are with The Hangover Part III, which runs a different sort of risk by going to darker and more dangerous places, both artistically and emotionally. It dares to alienate the audience that made The Hangover the highest-grossing R-rated comedy of all time because, well, it isn’t exactly a comedy.

Sure, there are some outrageous lines and sight gags, mostly courtesy of Zach Galifianakis and Ken Jeong, who function as central figures this time. But the director and co-writer Todd Phillips signals early and often that he’s much more interested than before in exploring matters of real consequence, rather than simply mining them for brash laughs.

Phillips and his co-writer Craig Mazin have placed the unusual challenge on themselves of trying to create something bold and new while simultaneously remaining true to the trilogy and wrapping it all up in a satisfying way. They succeed somewhat.

This time, Galifianakis’s insufferable, inappropriate man-child Alan has gone off his meds and is out of control. His family and friends – including his fellow “Wolfpack” members Phil (Bradley Cooper), Stu (Ed Helms) and Doug (Justin Bartha) – stage an intervention and offer to drive him to a treatment centre in Arizona. And so the four venture off on yet another journey.

In theory, this should be a pretty innocuous trek through the desert. But this is a Hangover movie. So, naturally, they get run off the road by masked thugs who work for crime boss Marshall (John Goodman, who improves everything merely by showing up). Turns out, some of their actions in Las Vegas four years ago have tied them to the evil, effeminate gangster Leslie Chow (Jeong) and put them in trouble with some powerful, volatile people.

This time around, Chow is clearly a sociopath, and the group’s association with him is more than just a nuisance. Jeong gets a bit more room to explore the role and finds a bit more shading, but if you hate this character, you might just hate this entire movie, as well.

Similarly, Galifianakis gets way more screen time here; he’s essentially the star of Part III. The character of Alan is still odd and off-putting, unorthodox and -unpredictable. But his loneliness and neediness shine through, which makes one of the more out-there figures in the Hang-over universe unexpectedly relatable. Your expectations – and keeping them in check – are a crucial factor here. This isn’t a party: this finally, truly is the hangover. And it’s also the recovery.

artslife@thenational.ae

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