By Robert Horton Herald Movie Critic
Bouncing back somewhat from its previous installment, “The Hangover Part III” ditches the complicated morning-after structure of the series and the slavish re-creation of plot points that made “Part II” such a chore.
It’s also less aggressively nasty than the last film. Oh, there are degradations, and random shootings, and the killing of a (computer-generated) giraffe. But director Todd Phillips and his crew have backed off from the far reaches of shock for this one.
We return to the world of the Wolfpack, the friends whose adventures in the previous movies come back to haunt them here. The past sins of Mr. Chow, once again played by the fearless Ken Jeong, result in the boys getting forced to travel to Tijuana and Las Vegas, where terrible things await.
The fellas are played by Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms and Zach Galifianakis. At this point, Cooper and Helms are essentially straight men to Mr. Z’s acting-out; both actors look mildly disgruntled at giving over the comedy weight to their bearded co-star.
Galifianakis has some moments, for sure; he’s perfected the sloppy bum who carries around a certain zen stillness about him. Someday this peculiar actor is going to find himself in a great movie, but that’s not going to happen with the “Hangover” saga.
Nobody’s as funny as they’ve been before, including the too-brief appearances by Melissa McCarthy (cameos by the “Identity Thief” star are becoming obligatory for comedy films) and Mike Epps.
John Goodman’s the official villain, although bad behavior is spread out evenly amongst the other characters.
Instead of the taboo-breaking of “Part II,” here we have sequences arranged around characters hanging from the roof at Caesar’s Palace or fending off cockfighting chickens. Naughty, and of course R-rated, but nothing to turn off the audience that prefers the teary-eyed male-bonding scenes featuring these well-traveled lads.
(The fourth member of the Wolfpack, played by Justin Bartha, is also here, and once again sidelined as a kidnapping hostage.)
“The Hangover Part III” has been declared the for-sure final chapter in this franchise. Whatever it is, it’s not especially satisfying: By pulling back from the wildness of “Part II,” it comes across as bland and half-baked.
That might be a mercy to the audience, but then what’s the point of doing another “Hangover” movie? Bad behavior was the selling point of the first two films, and this is more like unfortunate incidents than bad behavior — with the exception of Mr. Chow, of course. Mr. Chow will always be inexcusable.
“The Hangover Part III” (one and a half stars)
The final chapter for the bad boys, whose experiences with the inappropriate Mr. Chow (Ken Jeong) come back to haunt them. This one pulls back from the shockers of “Part II,” but seems toothless without that nasty streak; Bradley Cooper and Ed Helms give most of the comic action to Zach Galifianakis, which puts the balance off.
Rated: R for violence, language, nudity.
Showing: Alderwood 7, Cinebarre, Everett Stadium, Galaxy Monroe, Marsyville, Stanwood, Oak Tree, Pacific Place, Sundance, Woodinville, Cascade Mall.