Tuesday, May 28, 2013

The Hangover 3: A Sobering Reality

I recently saw the newest iteration of the Hangover franchise, The Hangover: Part III. The fact the movie's title took less than a few seconds to think of (because movie people can count, too) is all you need to know about the groundbreaking originality of this film; there is none.

I gave this movie too much credit based off its decently funny trailer, ignoring the 20% rating from critics and moviegoers on Rotten Tomatoes, along with the sage advice from a few sensibly thinking friends. I guess I just had to witness this pile of mediocrity for myself.

Big mistake.

Anyone remember when Michael Jordan came back with the Washington Wizards after his second retirement, tarnishing the end of an incredible career? It was all based off optimism, and the fact that Michael Jordan was a grown-ass man who could do whatever the hell he pleased. (Six championships earns that sort of judgement.) For all the great decisions he made on the court, that one decision to come back and play for Washington will go down as the one people question the most, even more so than Space Jam

If Phillips and company stopped after the first Hangover, it would go down as one of the greatest movies of all time; an undisputed cult classic. But for the second time in three years, they tarnished the legacy of the original. And there's only one reason: money.

Jordan wasn't in it for the money- he was a made man, many times over. He was in it for the sake of competition. Admirable- but in retrospect, mistaken.

If I'm making a third installment of a franchise, it's for one of two reasons (or both): completing the natural story arch or making an even better  film than the first two. Like the second Hangover, Phillips just wanted a reason to get back together with his buddies and make a few bucks. That's well and good and all- but if that's the intent, go gamble in Vegas for a weekend and spare the viewing public.

Part III falls victim to being a solid trailer movie; all of its best moments occur in it, with little left over to fill an hour and forty minutes. Even a cameo by one of today's best female comedians can't save this underachieving film.

What made Hangover a success was how refreshing it was and how (like a great sports team) everyone played their role to perfection: Bradley Cooper was the handsome, charismatic star with an edge, Ed Helms was the straight man to Zach Galifinakis' awkward-yet-entertaining humor, and Justin Bartha was- there. Ken Jeong burst on to the scene as a charismatic prick. It all was the perfect storm for a movie, really.

While three out of those five were still excellent in their roles, the other two are what really dragged down this movie.

Galifinakis turned into the Chandler Parsons of  actors. He came from nowhere and has an odd style, but it just works. He was odd, yet honest and endearing. Yet here we are in 2013 and by the end of the movie, he's just odd and annoying due to his overexposure.

Despite Jeong's limited time in the first installment, he provided bang-for-your-buck humor, taking over scenes with his style of funny. In Part III, his story dominates the entire length and Phillips force feeds us a "pull at your heart strings" story line between Allan and Chao, while trying to make us laugh out loud- and failing miserably at both.

There's a moment when Chao jumps off a Vegas building and para glides while singing, R. Kelly's "I Believe I Can Fly". It's poignant, seeing as Jordan used it in 1996's Space Jam. It's also fitting in relation to the context of the franchise.

Like Jordan in D.C., the Hangover is past its prime. Instead of soaring to greater heights, Hangover: Part III crashed and burned- and we can only hope there isn't a phoenix called Part IV.

Like it? Love it? Hate it? Contact me on Twitter @SeanNeutron

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