Friday, June 14, 2013

Hangover III leaves viewers high and dry

By EUGENE MBUGUA [email protected]

Hangover III, currently showing in theatres in Kenya and around the world, can best be described as a bad and undesirable hangover.

Directed by Todd Phillips, Hangover III is the last of the Hangover trilogy, which comprise Hangover released in 2009 and Hangover II in 2011. Phillips, who directed all three, is known for some of his other successful comedy films such as Road Trip, Old School and Project X.

If you have watched any of the first two of films of the Hangover trilogy, you would probably already know that the story revolves around four middle aged men, ‘the wolf pack’ consisting of Phil, Stu, Dough and Allan, played by Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms, Justin Bartha and Zach Galifianakis, respectively.

As in the other movies, Alan, who decides to buy a giraffe and drive it home, instigates the adventure. In a rather bizarre and distasteful situation, he crushes the animal’s head off on a bridge and causes a chain of car accidents.

Meanwhile, Mr Lesley Chou (Ken Jeong), the world criminal from the first two films has planned a dramatic escape from a Bangkok prison. In a scene very similar to one in the film The Shawshank Redemption, Chou drills a wall through his cell wall and escapes through the sewer and into a fishing freighter.

Meanwhile back in America, the self-aggrandising Alan has to face his wealthy, but fed up father (Jeffrey Tambor), who had to pay for his giraffe incident. The argument is nasty and the old man ends up dying from a heart attack.

After the funeral, Alan’s friends reluctantly agree to participate in an intervention where they settle on taking Alan to a rehabilitation centre several states away. This journey predictably sets the stage for the next adventure.

What follows, as in the other two movies, is a series of events that could only occur in a film written by Craig Mazin and Todd Phillips (the first wrote the Scary Movie series while the latter wrote Borat). There are masked men, some dog killing, blocks of gold and the return to Las Vegas.

While the film is not half as hilarious and spontaneous as the first one and barely has as many surprises as the second one, it offers a few good laughs. Most of them are from Galifianakis, who never disappoints with his spoilt, immature man act.

Other than Galifianakis, Ken Jeong, who is surprisingly a certified physician in real life, also makes for one or two laughs with his unpredictable and sometimes-confusing character of Chou.

Most of the other slightly funny instances in the film rely heavily on stereotypical racial jokes and innuendos such as the Asian pronunciation of ‘l’ and ‘r’ and the Jewish love for money.

While the movie, released worldwide on May 23, lags behind its season peers like Iron Man 3 and The Fast and Furious 6, it’s still a theatrical success raising over $272 million so far worldwide, compared to its $103 million production budget. The film has also become the second highest grossing R-rated film, second only to the first Hangover.

Nonetheless, critics were not so kind. Rotten Tomatoes, a respected film review website, showed that only about 49 percent of the site’s users liked it while only 20 percent of critics did.

“Less a comedy than an angrily dark action thriller, the Hangover Part 3 diverges from the series rote formula but offers nothing compelling in it’s place” reads the consensus on its website.

Phillip French, writing for The Guardian, summarised all the three movies. “The first Hangover movie was highly entertaining in a scabrously funny, calculatedely bad taste way…the second one more or less repeated the same plot in Bangkok with even more extreme jokes…the quartet’s third excursion overall is not too terrible by current comedic standards. Just a trifle undernourished, overlong and desperate.”