“The Hangover Part III”
No matter how funny they are, after three “Hangover” films in four years, writer/director Todd Phillips has to be sick of these characters. The groundbreaking trilogy really propelled Bradley Cooper, Zach Galifianakis and Ed Helms into movie stars. And it also can be credited with kick-starting Ken Jeong’s career and giving Justin Bartha a lazy payday. The first two films took comedy in raunchy new directions, always went too far and never said no to an outrageous situation. And they still managed to have a heart – a masturbating heart with a Mike Tyson tattoo – but a heart just the same. Each of the “wolf pack” had moments to shine, and Galifianakis and Helms turned into a vulgar Abbott and Costello. So how did Phillips decide to end it all? Disappointing, that’s how. He could have waited another year or two to let the trilogy play out in its own time. Instead, the whole mess feels rushed and Jeong ends up being the star of the film. It misses some of the elements that made the other films successful, and it relies on Galifianakis too much for scene-saving one liners. It does have a few laughs, and the gang tries to wrap the series up in a nice little bow. But it’s barely worth a watch, and only because it’s a little sample of the hair-of-the-dog that bit you in the first place.
Will Smith seems like one of the nicest guys in Hollywood. This is going to hurt a little. This film feels like a work of hubris and nepotism. Before the film was ever released, the filmmakers were already making plans for comic books and interactive video games. Franchises were being built on ideas and celebrity clout alone. Some of the hype is verifiable. Smith is also a producer, and he has a sturdy track record when it comes to shiny sci-fi films. So where did it all go wrong? Let’s start with the screenplay that was transformed from a survival plot into a futuristic survival plot that relies on effects. Then, let’s move to the choice of M. Night Shyamalan as a director. Shyamalan has suffered from inflated ego and degenerative auteurism for the last 10 years. Finally, let’s get to Smith’s son, Jaden. This poor kid spends most of the film with a dumbstruck look on his face, like they put a $130 million blockbuster on his shoulders for him to carry. He clearly wasn’t ready, and audiences should feel sorry for him. But not too sorry, he’s the son of one of the “Men in Black” for Christ’s sake. “After Earth” should be an afterthought when making a movie selection – pass.
Derrick Bracey, for Weekly Surge