Sunday, May 26, 2013

Review: "The Hangover Part III"

Have you ever just given up on a movie? I know you have. One time, I popped a DVD of Anchorman into my player for family night, and turned it off about 20 minutes in. It was a chore to watch what we watched. Now, that particular movie aged well, as I gave it a second shot some years later and loved it. Typically, however, once I've made the decision to turn off or walk out, that's it. The movie has lost me forever.

I can stick through just about anything. Heck, Orson Welles' The Trial - unwatchable for some of my friends - is a personal favorite of mine. But it was only a few months ago that I first walked out of a theater midway through a screening, completely bored. It was Taken 2. What could've been a fun Liam Neeson-sploitation flick was just a joyless affair, churned out with the sole purpose of making money based on the success of the previous film. I went to the bathroom after the first half hour, and never returned.

It's sad, because even money hungry sequels are capable of delivering something entertaining. Take Ghostbusters 2: not needed whatsoever, but did a fine job of continuing the story and gave audiences something to come back for. The cast/crew weren't phoning it in and the filmmaker wasn't filled with contempt for his fans. It was a fun movie that I would pay to see, even now.

I wouldn't even scoff at a discounted DVD of The Hangover Part III. It really isn't worth any attention whatsoever.

Honestly, I was surprised that I gave up on this threequel. I haven't seen the other two, but based on director Todd Phillips' previous work, as well as the three leads, I was expecting something at least mildly funny. Breaking from the formula of the previous two, Part III finds the wolfpack in a most dire spot. On a road trip to bring Allen to a mental hospital, they get stopped by a ruthless gangster. He wants them to find their old party acquaintance Mr. Chow and bring him in. Wackiness ensues. The end.

Well, it was the end for me, anyways. One hour was more than enough. In that time, I witnessed Ken Jeong pretending to be a dog, Zach Galifianakis saying silly things and everyone else just trying to get this over with. I felt sorry for them. I bet they wanted to escape, like in The Purple Rose of Cairo

It's hard to explain exactly what is wrong with this film except to say that it is NOT FUNNY. And, for a comedy to not be funny, that is unforgivable. But, why is it not funny? And, isn't that subjective anyways? Yes, what makes me laugh won't necessarily make you laugh. However, some things are universal. The rhythm and flow, the atmosphere and tone, acting and demeanor - it all speaks louder than a sight gag. Taking all of that into account, Part III is a depressing cash grab that should've been relegated to a fake trailer. 

I provided an image of a promotional poster for the movie. It features a Giraffe. Why? Well, in the trailer, Allen buys a Giraffe, and accidentally knocks its head clean off while driving. It appears at the beginning of the movie only. Now, I'm willing to bet that the writers whipped the script up as quickly as possible, and the marketing team stretched what little they had into an advertising strategy. This represents what the movie is: A poorly conceived and executed ad campaign for itself. 

From what I understand, the first movie was lighthearted, but the second film was pretty dark. It was also the same story, essentially. Did Todd Phillips pull a prank on all of us? He made two sequels to an unexpected success that were dark, uncomfortable and sad. Despite this, they are making money based on bad "jokes" and name recognition alone. And, of course, he'll be given more money to produce something else. Is Todd doing something extremely meta by intentionally making the same movie (Part II) and smearing poo on walls and calling it funny (Part III)? His documentary Hated in the Nation was about infamous punk rocker and performance artist GG Allin (google him) - perhaps these sequels are something like an art piece.

Or, maybe a studio handed him a check, and he said "Whatevs". I can respect that attitude towards making a story and presenting it to an audience, until I have to watch it, of course. Then, it's up to me if I want to make a discreet exit. Respect that choice, please Hollywood. After all, you still have my money. And, you haven't lost me forever. Yet.

1/5 *s

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