MOVIES

Hang It Up

The faded franchise and grating characters have run their course

Stu (Ed Helms), Phil (Bradley Cooper) and Alan (Zach Galifianakis) find themselves on yet another road trip to save Doug in “The Hangover Part III,” directed by Todd Phillips. See more photos at folioweekly.com/movies.
Warner Bros. Pictures
Mr. Chow (Ken Jeong) is a character best absorbed in small doses, but we get way too much of his manic unpredictability in "The Hangover Part III."
Warner Bros. Pictures
Alan (Zach Galifianakis), Mr. Chow (Ken Jeong), Stu (Ed Helms) and Phil (Bradley Cooper) in "The Hangover Part III."
Warner Bros. Pictures
Alan (Zach Galifianakis) in "The Hangover Part III."
Warner Bros. Pictures
Marshall (John Goodman) and Black Doug (Mike Epps) in "The Hangover Part III."
Warner Bros. Pictures
Jade (Heather Graham) in "The Hangover Part III."
Warner Bros. Pictures
Stu (Ed Helms), Phil (Bradley Cooper) and Alan (Zach Galifianakis) in "The Hangover Part III."
Warner Bros. Pictures
Doug (Justin Bartha), Alan (Zach Galifianakis), Stu (Ed Helms) and Phil (Bradley Cooper) in "The Hangover Part III."
Warner Bros. Pictures
Mr. Chow (Ken Jeong) is a character best absorbed in small doses, but we get way too much of his manic unpredictability in "The Hangover Part III."
Warner Bros. Pictures
Phil (Bradley Cooper), Alan (Zach Galifianakis) and Stu (Ed Helms) in "The Hangover Part III."
Warner Bros. Pictures
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Starring: Zach Galifianakis, Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms, Justin Bartha, Ken Jeong, Mike Epps, John Goodman

Directed by: Todd Phillips

Stars: 1 1/2 out of 4

Rating: R

What a stale, sad way to end a trilogy.

In "The Hangover Part III," the follow-up to the hilarious 2009 original and the hit-and-miss remake/sequel from 2011, an exotic animal is again (remember the tiger?) featured. This time, Alan (Zach Galifianakis), an immature goon whose charms were exhausted at the end of the first film, has bought a giraffe. Alan's loving life, listening to Hanson's "MmmBop" while driving down the highway 
hauling the giraffe behind him, when the poor animal is decapitated.

Seeing a giraffe's head fly off its body and splat on the windshield of another car, with kids inside it, isn't funny, it's dumb. And mean. (Animal lovers, be warned: Dogs and chickens are also murdered.) And worse, the gag comes in the beginning and has no context. It's just there to be extreme and stupid and try to make us laugh.

Oh, how this franchise has fallen.

Unfortunately, the rest of "Part III" doesn't get much better. This is a woefully unfunny, absolutely terrible third chapter of what never should've been a trilogy in the first place. Heck, even the sequel wasn't necessary, but at least its existence was understandable, given the success of the first film. When the second movie got a well-deserved tepid reaction, it was time to leave well enough alone.

What we get in "Part III" plays like writer/director Todd Phillips had leftover ideas after his 2010 road trip dud "Due Date" and threw them into the half-baked script here. After Alan's father (Jeffrey Tambor) has a heart attack from the giraffe incident and dies, it's decided that Alan should spend time in a mental hospital. But he'll only go if fellow Wolfpackers Phil (Bradley Cooper), Stu (Ed Helms) and Doug (Justin Bartha) tag along.

So the four of them hit the road, only to be kidnapped by Black Doug (Mike Epps) and gangster Marshall (the excellent John Goodman, looking unsure of just how over-the-top he should take things). A few clever ties to the first film later, Marshall kidnaps Doug and tells Alan, Stu and Phil to bring Mr. Chow (Ken Jeong), a recent Thai prison escapee, before him.

Chow is a character best absorbed in small doses, but we get way too much of his manic unpredictability here. He's essentially a fourth lead character, which makes two of the four characters with the most screen time completely odious. Speaking of Alan, the first time around, he was a lovable loser who just wanted to fit in, and he endeared himself to us because of that. Now Alan's a devious misfit, a man-child who chooses to be a big baby, and as a result, is unspeakably insufferable. This change in Alan's character is another reason the second film didn't work as well as it could have.

It's so obvious "The Hangover Part III" was made solely for a cash grab that it's shameful. The characters are played out, and there's no natural direction for the story to go any further, making it all feel unnecessary. If you spend money to see this, you're only encouraging Warner Bros. to make "Part IV." At this point, that's a very bad idea.

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