If “The Hangover” franchise were a cake, the oven timer would have just buzzed. It is so done. And when you opened the oven, the cake would have fallen.
With “The Hangover Part III,” the raunchy, outrageous comedy franchise about the Wolf Pack — four buddies and their drunken, prenuptial misadventures — has lost nearly all the raunch and most of the outrage. It’s not really a bad movie. It just suffers by comparison and expectation.
Nobody even gets a hangover in this one.
The focus is on Alan (Zach Galifianakis), who is so aggravating that he gives his father a fatal heart attack, and on Mr. Chow (Ken Jeong), an out-of-control gangster whose drug use and sexual kinkiness still are running wild.
The rest of the Wolf Pack decides on an intervention after seeing Alan at the funeral. They will drive him to Arizona to get some help. Yes, another road trip. But another gangster (John Goodman), forces their minivan off the road and explains that Chow, newly escaped from a Bangkok prison, has stolen $21 million in gold bars from him.
The guys have three days to track down Chow, or hostage Doug (Justin Bartha) gets a bullet in the head.
Their misadventures take them to Tijuana, then Las Vegas. Instead of a baby, a tiger and boxer Mike Tyson, this time their travels involve a giraffe, a flock of attack roosters and a cameo appearance by singer R. Kelly.
We learn a few new things in this movie. For example, Alan can sing “Ave Maria” in an angelic voice. And Mr. Chow is both colorblind and dyslexic, which can be disastrous if you’re trying to disarm a security system full of colored wires.
Almost all of the funny business goes to to Chow and Alan, although Melissa McCarthy tripped my laugh trigger as the proprietor of a Vegas pawn shop who has issues with her wheelchair-bound mother and who instantly has the hots for Alan. Their mutual obnoxiousness suggests they could be made for each other — which is a movie I’d rather pay for than the one I just saw.
Bradley Cooper and Ed Helms are mostly along for the ride, straight men for Galifianakis’ loopy bad behavior. His character has always been as grating as nails on a chalkboard for me, but he really is funny.
And don’t ask me why, but I get a real kick out of Jeong, whose character makes up in inspired ruthlessness what he lacks in sane, rational thought.
So the movie’s not a total loss. It’s just a surprise that a franchise that started out by going outrageous places no movie had gone before ends with a whimper instead of a bang.
A tacked-on postlude helps the movie feel too long — even though it’s the shortest of the three at just 100 minutes.
Note to the studio chiefs: I was kidding about wanting to see a Galifianakis-McCarthy sequel. Take two aspirin and get over “The Hangover” before you give it to your audience. Might already be too late to say that.
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