Monday, 27 May 2013

Film Review: The Hangover Part III (2013)

Director: Todd Phillips
Writers: Todd Phillips and Craig Mazin
Stars: Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms, Zach Galifianakis, Ken Jeong, Justin Bartha and John Goodman

Definition of vacuous:
Adjective: Having or showing a lack of thought or intelligence; mindless.
Example of use in a sentence: “The Hangover Part III is a completely vacuous cinematic experience.”

Yes, The Hangover Part III is as bad as it gets from a summer comedy; or a comedy from any season, year, or decade. It is a ‘comedy’ without a single laugh and an experience without a single commendable element stretching across its 100 minute running time. It’s a feat of utter failure and incompetence at every turn and a thoroughly unpleasant film.

In 2011, comedy sequels sunk to a painful new low when The Hangover Part II was released upon an unsuspecting public as a beat-for-beat remake of the genuinely funny if overrated 2009 original. In my review of that film I said the following:

“Why has director Todd Phillips put us through the misery (and it really is a miserable, pathetic excuse for a comedy) of seeing this new sordid, hateful little film when, at the very least, he could have attempted to do something original with the characters - even if no one actually wanted to see or hear from them again.”

Two years on and Phillips has indeed attempted to do something new, and in doing so has achieved what was seemingly impossible; he’s made a film equal to, or even worse, than Part II. It’s a difficult decision to rank one above the other just like it’s difficult to choose between drinking a pint of treacle or a pint of cooking oil; neither choice is favourable and both will make you feel like crap after consuming it.

The very fact that this film was even made with this plot is headache-inducing. There is no reason other than pure unadulterated greed on the part of the production companies for these characters to get back together for one more film, let alone two; the characters had a life span of precisely the running time of the first film and not a minute more, and had nothing left to draw from. However, over $460 million in the bank meant they HAD to come back, whether we, they, or anyone wanted to see them again.

The cast offer nothing in this film because there is nothing or them to offer. Bradley Cooper and Ed Helms occasionally say “what the fuck is happening” and “what the fuck is going on” just to remind us they are breathing, but this time around they take a back seat to the one-note idiocy of Zach Galifianakis’s Alan and the laugh famine that is Ken Jeong’s Mr Chow. The writers know there is no arc, dimension, development or range in any of these men, so this time they’ve picked the stupidest character and the vilest character to lead this $100 million production with dialogue which sometimes doesn’t make sense, let alone make for witty comedy.

Chow singing karaoke; cockerel attacks; Alan singing; Chow eating dog food; Chow insulting people; Alan walking into things; Phil does nothing; Stu drives a limo fast for a few minutes; Alan causing a multivehicle accident; Alan getting tackled; Alan getting called fat numerous times; Chow parachuting over Las Vegas; John Goodman delivering the definition of a ‘phoning it in’ career-low performance.... That’s The Hangover Part III.

Writer/director Todd Philips is now the Michael Bay of modern comedy. His films take huge sums of money at the box office and he clearly doesn’t give one solitary damn about what his audience may want; with his last three films he is sticking his middle finger up to the face of each and every person who pays their £10 or equivalent to see take the time to see them. His idea of comedy is crass, vulgar, insulting, and is spreading like a disease across the industry as with The Hangover rip-off like 21 And Over and Project X. Some may argue making The Hangover Part III as a different concept than the same guys getting drunk yet again is a positive and gutsy move; but how can it be when there is not a shred of humour in the screenplay? Moreover, how dare Philips and team even offer this trash to us and expect it to be passable entertainment. It’s an insult and a yet another remake of the first film would have been preferable as it may possibly have generated a single laugh.

Stop thinking for yourself verdict: One could list each scene and set piece and tear into it, but the stand out insult is in the first five minutes where a giraffe is decapitated thanks to Alan’s stupidity. The fact that the CGI is atrocious and draws attention away from what’s happening is one thing, but even if it were at Life Of Pi levels of realism how could this pass for humour? What is the motivation or purpose of the character to lead him to make these decisions? Is it because it’s Alan that it’s supposed to be funny and as long as he’s saying or doing it it will get a laugh? Are we supposed to just accept that Alan is a fool and that’s all this film needs to function?

If so, then the film makers hold you, the paying audience, in lesser regard than they do Alan. Now what’s funny about that?

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