Back in 2009, the infamous ‘Wolfpack’ were formed in Sin City aka Las Vegas. With a little help from Mike Tyson’s right hook, Heather Graham’s ditzy blonde and a terrifying tiger, they brought a new alcohol fueled lease of life to the R-rated comedy. Whilst the well received original was hardly begging for a sequel, their eventful visit to Bangkok, Thailand in 2011 was an unfulfilling experience for many of us cinemagoers with its carbon copy approach. Billed as an ‘epic finale’, director Todd Philiips is now faced with the inenivable task of attempting to ‘recapture the magic’ whilst raising the stakes befitting of its tagline.
‘Part III’ allows its two most bizarre characters to take centre stage, Alan (Zach Galifanakis) and his high pitched partner-in-crime Leslie Chow (Ken Jeong) respectively. The bearded man-child’s behaviour (giraffes beware!) and outbursts have become increasingly erratic and peculiar in nature, prompting further concern as his family deals with a tragic bereavement. Eager to stage an intervention, they prompt Doug (Justin Bartha), Stu (Ed Helms) and Phil (Bradley Cooper) to persuade Alan to seek the help he so desperately needs.
En route to the desired destination, the actions of Chow have a lasting domino effect on our oddball gang. As we discover that he has masterfully broke out of a Thai prison, they are ambushed by the tough talking Marshall (John Goodman) whom is eager to settle a grudge. Involving the steal of gold bars belonging to Marshall worth in the region of 21 million dollars, they reluctantly agree to his race against time demands of hunting down Chow and returning the ‘loot’. Cue the kidnapping of Doug (again) and a return to the ‘birthplace’ of their collective antics..
Tinkering a successful formula at such a late stage is always a gamble, with this installment shedding the nuptials and bachelor parties that dominated its predecessors. Admirable as it may be, it proves a misguided move with director Phillips here alienating the series’ core audience by contradicting its own title, diluting the anarchy and crucially the laughs, which are too few and far between. In exchange, we’re left with a creatively redundant threequel heavily reliant on a script that boils down to a barrage of ‘F bombs and animal cruelty, along with a premise that is distinctly more ‘crime caper’ than full blown comedy.
In line with the law of diminishing returns, the banter between the central trio sadly lacks the playful zest of previous outings. Galifankis’ Alan is the saving grace, with his disturbingly off-kilter persona garnering mild bouts of hilarity. Helms and Cooper however are criminally ill-served, with the introduction of John Goodman’s Marshall in particular bordering on pointless. Anyone hoping for a Mr Chow spin-off may also radically rethink their stance, with Ken Jeong’s fully fledged turn growing increasingly tiresome bar a gloriously OTT musical rendition.
Whilst the Wolfpack’s last outing just avoids being a complete howler, ‘The Hangover Part III’ overall is a frustratingly flat and surprisingly safe finale, with its terrific mid-credits sequence a bittersweet indication of the series’ sad descend into mediocrity.