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The Hangover Part III

Before Midnight

May 30, 2013

The Hangover Part III (** ½) R

I was taken aback as much as anyone at the success of the original Hangover film in 2009, but succeed it did, in a big way. Still, it wasn’t the kind of film that easily lent itself to a series of sequels. Certainly, I would have never imagined that four years later I would be writing about the second sequel to that original Hangover film. Yet here I am writing a review for what is promised to be the last Hangover film.

The second entry in the series was lackluster to say the least, basically a sorry retread of the first film with the only difference being a change of story setting from Vegas to Bangkok, and a curious lack of laughs. I was kind of anticipating the third installment because I knew it was apparent that the series’ director Todd Phillips would have to do something different this time out. That is until word slipped out that perhaps the third Hangover film was the worst of all.

Well, I’m happy to report that the film isn’t the godawful misfire that was previously reported, and though it’s certainly not perfect, the film had enough charm and plot twists to keep me engaged throughout its 100 minute running time.

Cooper, Galifianakis & Helms share one last journey

Some may choose to disagree with me. Perhaps I was just in too good of a mood when I saw it, but I found The Hangover Part III to be easy enough to take if you are willing to lower your expectations just a tad, as I did.

The plot of the thing mainly revolves around the character of Alan (Zach Galifianakis). Alan has always been a loose cannon in these films but in this one he decides to go off his meds, which is causing all sorts of problems. When his father (Jeffrey Tambor) dies of a massive heart attack immediately following a screaming match with his son, Alan sinks into a depression. Before you know it the remaining members of the Wolf Pack (Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms, Justin Bartha) are recruited to intervene on Alan’s behalf and get him to a treatment facility.

At this point the film becomes a caper film when a crime lord (John Goodman) takes one of the Wolf Pack hostage—if you’ve seen the other films you’ll guess which one—and orders the remaining members of the pack to locate Alan’s questionable pal, Mr. Chong (Ken Jeong), who apparently has stolen a large chunk of money from the guy. 

The film’s plot eventually takes the trio back to Vegas where they are reunited with the Heather Graham character from the first film as they attempt to capture Mr. Chong in exchange for their kidnapped pal.

If you’re looking for the kind of laughs that were to be had in the first Hangover film you’ll find that there’s only a sprinkling of them, which will result in a chuckle here and there for most audience members. Ironically, the funniest scene comes during the end credits and that’s a shame because the film could have used more of them. The emphasis here is on keeping the film’s crime plot moving along. I just wished that Phillips and company remembered what made the first film the crowd pleaser it was, namely big laughs.     

Before Midnight • R

AP • Jocelyn Noveck

The final scene of 2004’s Before Sunset was so romantic it drove moviegoers crazy—happily crazy—especially because it was so tantalizingly ambiguous. Jesse and Celine, that appealing (and extremely talkative) couple played by Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy, who had fallen in love in the 1995 Before Sunrise, had reunited at last.

In the gorgeous afternoon light of Paris, no less. But we didn’t know what would happen next. Nine years later, we have our answer, and it was sure worth the wait. Before Midnight, the third movie in the Richard Linklater series, is not only as good as the first two, it’s arguably better, tackling weightier, trickier issues with wit, humor and breathtaking directness.

Delphy & Hawke are as good or better than ever

The setting is still gorgeous—it’s a summer vacation in Greece. (Will these two ever venture to an ugly locale?) But the rest is different. Delpy gives Celine a new hardness here, an edge that we saw only a bit in the previous film. And Hawke is extremely effective as a man who adores his partner but is increasingly frustrated with her. It all comes to a head in a humdinger of a fight, just Jesse and Celine in a hotel room, plus a bottle of wine that doesn’t get drunk. It gets poured, though, and you’ll be so frazzled, you’ll want to reach through the screen and chug it down yourself. Three and a half stars out of four.

The Hangover Part III is playing everywhere. Before Midnight is opening soon in Charlotte.

Questions or comments? filmfan1970@hotmail.com

 

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