You know that episode of The Simpsons where Bart appears on Krusty’s show, knocks everything over, and says, “I didn’t do it!” and becomes an overnight media sensation? And he does the same thing over and over until the bit becomes stale and he’s escorted out the back door? Well, that may actually apply better to The Hangover Part II (2011), which is an almost beat-for-beat redux of The Hangover (2009). I’ll give a little credit to Part III for at least trying to do something different, but some sort of malaise hovers over this movie. It’s like they aren’t even trying to be funny. It’s as if all these characters will just show up and we’re all suppose to laugh our asses off because, well, THEY’RE THE WOLFPACK!
I really enjoyed The Hangover. It was clever how writers Jon Lucas and Scott Moore and director Todd Phillips stuck a staple of film noir (the man with amnesia trying to reconstruct the events leading to wrongs he may have done) to a slob comedy. And it worked! You really didn’t know where the movie was going, and it gave it a real spark. And because of the fact that neither Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms, Zach Galifianakis, nor Ken Jeong were really well-known at the time, it gave the people watching the movie the sense that they were really discovering something, that this little movie was something they had to tell everybody about immediately (regardless of the fact that it was released in the summer and had the Herculean marketing arm of Warner Brothers pushing it.)
Then came The Hangover Part II, one of the most cynical examples of “give the people what they want” in recent memory. Just switch up the locations, and nobody will notice that it’s almost THE EXACT SAME MOVIE!! Ed Helms sings an amusing song in the first one, Ed Helms sings an amusing song in the second one. Same with Mike Tyson. And on and on. I don’t remember the last time I was so angry leaving the theater.
At least The Hangover Part III leaves Tyson on the sidelines and tries a different noir staple, the heist film, for this one. But it has no energy. There’s no effort being made to be funny or shocking. We’re just suppose to laugh because Ed Helms is exasperated and that’s what he does. And Zach Galifianakis is creepy and weird and isn’t that funny because that’s what he does. And Bradley Cooper, well, he was never funny in any of them, but now he just looks completely disinterested. Maybe Cooper’s just waiting to get this job over with so he can work with David O. Russell again and make a movie with real merit.
Everybody involved with The Hangover Part III PROMISES this is the last one. As we escort the Wolfpack out the back door, let’s hope they’re true to their word.