Sunday 9 June 2013

Review: The Hangover: Part 3

Year: 2013
Director: Todd Phillips
Screenplay: Todd Phillips, Craig Mazin
Starring: Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms, Zach Galifianakis, Heather Graham, Justin Bartha, Jeffrey Tambor, Ken Jeong

Synopsis is here

There is one question a writer must ask before he puts pen to paper for his screenplay. It's something that the audience don't even ask themselves before they sit to watch. Never the less; it must be asked. The question is simply: why should I care about these people? Such a query must be asked and it definitely must be answered, even in the most basic of terms. The audience may not think they care, but subconsciously they need to know that if they're going to spend 90+ mins with these people, there must be reasoning to back them.

Hollywood right now is in a franchise fronted, risk free circle, that it may never wish to break, as long as the pay is good. Films are becoming more like soap operas with characters having to trip and stumble over the same hurdles again and again.

The Hangover worked on a guy like me because it was a decent one shot idea; four misfits thrown together into a wild circumstance. It was rude, crude and a little bit dumb, but there was something in there that kept me watching. The second film was more of the same but not in a good way. Fool me once shame on me, fool twice, I'm an idiot. The same goes for these guys as they hit the same beats of the first film but with more spitefulness and diminishing returns.

We are now lumped with a needless third film in which the hangover is no longer a literal one, but a metaphorical one in which the Wolfpack's previous antics have caught up have finally caught with them in the shape of Leslie Chow whose rampant criminal activity has sparked a rival gangster to take action. The Hangover Part 3 forgets about being an actual comedy and in turn becomes a crime film with comedic elements and uninspired reminders of the previous entries. It failed with me on all accounts.

The reason is down to the rambling I was mumbling about at the start of this review. Why should I care about characters who have outstayed their welcome? What were a bunch of amusing guys you could relate to, are now a miserable bunch of irritants. No longer do are the protagonists balanced. Once Alan became the "break out" character of the first film, more focus has been placed on him. He's obnoxious and belligerent but the film does nothing to balance this. Like the Phillips produced Project X (2012) we have a nasty character and his faults are celebrated to the extreme. Add to this that he's also mentally unstable and we have a potent mix. 

Comedy of cruelty is difficult, but brilliant if done correctly. Films such as Martin Scorsese's The King of Comedy (1982) or Jody Hill's Observe and Report (2009) manage to blend the absurdity and pathetic qualities of their characters so well that you don't simply focus on their nastiness. Another example would be Mitchell Hurwitz's brilliant dense sitcom; Arrested Development (2003) which manages to add pathos to a group of characters you would walk across the street to avoid in real life. By the time the boorish creatures in The Hangover Part 3 reach their unearned emotional conclusion, I had my fill. 

For me; the film’s only saving grace was Ken Jeong, the only person who remembered that he was in a comedy. Jeong's nastily stereotypical Chinese character, has some of the best lines and the most energy in a film in which the listless looks on the leads faces are all too obvious. But think about that. The character that most people have a negative issue with is the only thing I found interesting within the film. Colour me backward, but I feel that says everything about The Hangover Part 3. A bloated, lazy comedy in which I had to focus on its most negative aspects in order to find a laugh.