“The Party’s Over”

“The Hangover Part III”
Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms, Zach Galifianakis
Directed by Todd Phillips

If 2011’s horrible “Hangover Part II” wasn’t enough of a red flag that its phenomenally successful predecessor was something of a fluke, then its even-more-horrible follow-up, “The Hangover Part III,” should officially serve as the last call for the Wolfpack. Proving that lightning doesn’t always strike twice – let alone three times – the final installment of director Todd Phillips’ so-called “epic” trilogy is such a colossal failure that there’s really no reason for it to exist at all (except, of course, to make its distributor, Warner Bros., a gazillion dollars at the box office when it goes up against “Fast and Furious 6” over the long and lucrative Memorial Day Weekend).

But Phillips gets a smidgen of credit for at least trying something different in an effort to break the mold set by both of its predecessors, which together have grossed more than $1 billion worldwide. Jettisoning the morning-after structure that worked extremely well once, but clearly not twice, “Part III” finds longtime buddies Phil (Bradley Cooper), Stu (Ed Helms) and Doug (Justin Bartha) staging an intervention for their dark horse friend Alan (Zach Galifianakis). As if it wasn’t bad enough that the 42-year-old bearded one still lives at home with his parents, his accidental decapitation of a giraffe on a busy Los Angeles freeway (don’t ask) turns out to be the last straw.

But before Phil, Stu and Doug can get him to a facility where he can get some help, a mysterious mob kingpin named Marshall (John Goodman) has a mighty big bone to pick with them. It seems that the Wolfpack set a series of unfortunate events into motion with the outrageous Mr. Chow (Ken Jeong) during their infamous bachelor party in Las Vegas a few years ago – events that cost Marshall millions of dollars. Now it’s payback time, and unless they can do right by finding Mr. Chow and delivering him to Marshall’s hands, a head-throbbing hangover will be the least of their problems.

For a movie that’s called “The Hangover,” there’s not a whole lot to get hung over about. There’s no wild bachelor party, no heavy drinking, no blackout, no rooster, no tiger, no baby and no missing tooth. Oh, and no Mike Tyson. But there is the return of Heather Graham as the now-former stripper with a heart of gold and a scene-stealing turn from Melissa McCarthy as a love interest for Zach Galifianakis, so all is not lost.

What it has far too much of, sadly, is Ken Jeong as Mr. Chow. He was funny enough as a supporting character in the first film – one who made an unforgettable entrance when he jumped buck-naked out of a car trunk and onto poor Bradley Cooper’s face. But after wearing out his welcome in the lame sequel, his character is simply too annoying and unfunny to have an entire plot revolve around him.

It doesn’t help that the returning cast members are all over the place. Ed Helms seems to be giving it the old college try, but Bradley Cooper – who filmed “Hangover III” while doing the dog-and-pony show during Awards Season for his Oscar-nominated turn in “Silver Linings Playbook” – looks like he’d rather be someplace else. Heather Graham returns from the first movie for one underutilized scene, while John Goodman plays his bad guy mob boss so seriously it feels like he’s acting in a different movie.

Zach Galifianakis is a modest saving grace, as he gives “Hangover III” an unexpected touch of sweetness. But for a sequel that lacks any of the spark, spirit and inspiration that made the first “Hangover” such a wildly successful concoction, it comes far too late, and it’s not enough to save the film. So let this indeed be the last call for the Wolfpack, which has now taken two trips to the bar too many.

-Scott Mantz