The wolves have packed it in, and you know who I feel sorry for? (Anyone who coughed up 10 bucks for a ticket to this fecal threequel has my deepest condolences, it goes without saying.) I pity poor Justin Bartha, the actor who played the chronically missing-in-action Doug. He’s the one lead in this phenomenally lucrative series who somehow failed to leverage his participation into superstardom.
He’s the Ringo of the foursome. No, that’s not fair to Ringo; Bartha’s more like the comedy equivalent of Pete Best. You’ve got to be cursed, have really lousy karma or just be staggeringly unlucky to come out the other end of something as massive as The Hangover trilogy with your career the size it was when you went in. The film fates have never been kind to Bartha. Guess what movie provided his first major role? Gigli! He never had a chance.
Meanwhile Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms and Zach Galifianakis have become household names since the first installment broke all box-office records for an R-rated comedy back in 2009. In the case of Galifianakis, he’s a household name most people are now even capable of pronouncing, and that’s saying something.
Well, Alan (Z.G.), Phil (B.C.), Stu (E.H.) and Doug (Does it matter?) have shared their last adventure, and, believe me, nothing in The Hangover Part III is likely to etch Bartha — or any of his castmates — into your memory an iota more than he already is. This is one forgettable finale.
Todd Phillips is a paradox among Hollywood directors in that you never know whether his next product will be pure genius or complete crap. He’s made two immortal comedies — Old School (2003) and The Hangover; a documentary about Phish (2000’s Bittersweet Motel); and a number of less-than-memorable road-trip pictures such as Due Date (2010) and, well, Road Trip (2000); in addition to a pair of stunningly unnecessary remakes — Starsky & Hutch (2004) and School for Scoundrels (2006). I’ve yet to encounter a single human being who’s seen the latter. For that matter, anyone who knows someone who has.
On the other hand, everybody in the world saw The Hangover Part II. It grossed $582 million globally. The only problem was, everybody in the world hated it. Phillips alienated the franchise’s base with his lazy recycling of the first film’s story elements and rewind structure. So the question was never “Will there be a third and final chapter?” — no matter what, the money would be too good to leave on the table. Rather, it was “Will the director redeem himself by making the third in the series as brilliantly and originally unhinged as the first?” It is with considerable amazement that I report the answer is a resounding “not even close.” The third Hangover, unbelievably, sucks even more than the second.
Sure, the filmmaker went out of his way to dispense with the step-retracing premise of the previous installments. The bugaboo is that he and cowriter Craig Mazin also dispense almost entirely with the laughs. I won’t bore you with plot details. Suffice it to say, forces conspire to minimize Bartha’s on-screen time once more and send the balance of the Wolf Pack on the road again in search of the Chinese gangster Mr. Chow (Ken Jeong). Long story. And not a particularly riveting one.
Here’s all you really need to know about how badly Part III blows: Its creators accomplished the theoretically impossible. They found a way to put Melissa McCarthy in front of a camera and keep her from being funny. The actress has a cameo as the owner of a Vegas pawnshop. Yawn shop is more like it. It’s a sight I’m not at all happy I saw.
Like pretty much every other minute of the movie.
* Running time: 100 min.
* Rated: R