Zach Galifianakis (middle) takes center stage for the final part of The Hangover Trilogy. Photo Credit: Google
Zach Galifianakis (middle) takes center stage for the final part of The Hangover Trilogy. Photo Credit: Google

“The Hangover” series has always been divisive; you either love or hate the insane style of humor the film is known for. While the first film was well received both critically and financially, the second film failed to bring anything new to the genre. “The Hangover Part 3” tries to fix the trilogy’s past criticisms, but changed too dramatically for its own good.

All the members of The Wolfpack return, as Alan (Zach Galifianakis), Phil (Bradley Cooper), Stu (Ed Helms) and even Chow (Ken Jeong) continue the insane hijinks we now expect from these characters. That is where the comparisons to the previous film end though, as this time there is no bachelor party, no drug infused hangover and no end film epiphany.

The story this time revolves around Alan, Stu and Phil having to hunt down Chow, who has escaped imprisonment after the previous film, and reclaim a fortune worth of stolen gold for the crime boss Marshall (series newcomer John Goodman). This escapade leads our heroes from Arizona to Mexico and finally back to the place where all this started: Las Vegas.

All of the actors seem to fit into their roles nicely, with Galifianakis and Jeong once again stealing the show. Cooper, Helms and Goodman are all fine in their roles, but the characters are not given much to do. The writers clearly didn’t know how to properly use these characters, causing them to simply stand around for a lot of scenes.

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One of the films biggest problems comes directly from the writing. Director/writer Todd Phillips’ decision to change the series formula forced a tonal shift in not only the characters, but the humor as well.  The previous films relied on the characters moving from one insane set piece to the other, with the humor coming from the characters reactions. This film uses simpler jokes and visual gags, many of which are references to previous film events.

The movie is so different in fact that the film is more of a melodrama than a comedy. We are given a lot of character development, which is nice but the movie assumes we have developed a strong connection with these characters. Are we supposed to care about Stu’s desire to be more then a dentist? Why should I care about Alan’s descent into madness? The answer is simply no, but the film does not see it that way.

It is here that the biggest problem with “The Hangover Part 3” lies; the movie is just not funny. The film offers a better overall narrative, and supplies a satisfying conclusion to the trilogy, but a comedy that is not funny has no point. The film took a lot of risks by changing the formula, and it ended up being a hit or miss situation. By centering the film more on the characters and less on the comedy we are given a stronger produced film, but a poor comedy. The humor, what little there is of it, has also changed to a much darker tone.

For example, a large portion of the series humor revolves around inflicting pain, but this is no surprise as people laugh at someone else being hurt. In this film though, we now witness a lot of animal cruelty, with many animals being killed. One character even says, “It’s just an animal, it was funny” after witnessing a killing. This is incredibly dark humor that was not necessary and can directly affect how you enjoy this film.

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“The Hangover Part 3” continues the series tradition of being a divisive film. The characters are still the same and are acting as great as before, but the creative risks change too much of the film. If you enjoyed the previous films it is worth seeing how the trilogy ends, but for newcomers the films offers nothing but inside jokes.

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Former journalist and aspiring filmmaker Brandon Benarba has always been fascinated with the power of storytelling. Whether it is fiction or none fiction, the written word or film you can always find him thinking of new stories. He is a Cinema Cultural Studies major going into a senior year, but you can usually find him at the movie theaters. His favorite Muppet is Animal.

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