imageThere wasn’t much about The Hangover that I liked but I did think the basic idea had potential. The execution of the idea seemed quite lazy to me, especially after the 100 minutes we discover that if we’d just looked a little harder where we started, we could’ve saved ourselves an awful lot of bother. And there was a very strong sense to me that Dude, Where’s My Car had pretty much tackled the idea so much better already.

In comparison, The Hangover Part II was terrible. It was racist, homophobic, sexist, mean-spirited and went out of its way to discover a new, lower common denominator. The fact that it was essentially a remake of the first movie with some variables tweaked (Las Vegas became Bangkok, a baby became a monkey, a tooth became a tattoo, Mike Tyson became Mike Tyson) did it no favours and the same “we could’ve saved ourselves an awful lot of bother by looking a bit harder at the outset” just made matters worse.

Safe to say, then, that I didn’t go into The Hangover Part III with a whole lot of confidence. So it came as quite a shock to come out of it thinking it my least hated entry in the series. It really is. It’s the best one. By some considerable way. Wow. I wasn’t expecting that.

It manages this by basically abandoning the formula that dictated the first two installments. Ignoring the segment in the end credits, there is no hangover in The Hangover Part III. There is no piecing together the events of the night before. And the racist, homophobic, sexist elements have been toned right down. Don’t get me wrong, it’s still far from pleasant and I think I’d rather autograph my own eyeballs with a fountain pen than spend a minute in the company of any of these characters but it’s less abhorrent.

The plot, such as it is, revolves around Mr Chow (Ken Jeong) who Shawshank Redemptions his way out of a Thai prison and hightails it to the US where Alan (Zack Galifianakis), a character who I’ve never ceased in wanting to punch in the face, is apparently out of control and off his meds. The other members of the Wolfpack (Bradley Cooper, Justin Bartha and Ed Helms) intervene and while they’re driving him to a facility (hopefully a maximum security one) in Arizona, they’re forced off the road by some acquaintances of Chow who want some stolen gold back. For reasons never fully explored, the baddies, led by John Goodman, rely on the gang to track down Chow, taking Doug hostage as collateral. And they do this twice. It doesn’t really make sense. It doesn’t really matter.

Despite all these changes, some things are the same. Acting standards and directorial style are both as expected. It’s the same bunch of largely hateful characters, doing largely hateful activities, in the pursuit of a largely hateful goal. And, like the other two movies, it’s not funny. This time, I’m not even sure it’s trying to be funny. Surely too many people get shot for it to be a comedy.

However, whether it intends to be a comedy, an action-thriller, or a period drama, it did manage to coax one laugh out of me but because it came during the aforementioned end credits segment I’m not sure that it counts. Fans of the series, who will surely be utterly disappointed with the preceeding 100 minutes, will be livid with this extra scene as it looks to the world what they would have expected the actual movie to be about.

So if there’s a sense of default by this “best in series” proclamation, that’s certainly no accident. I have no intention of ever watching it again and I’d have a hard time recommending it to anyone, but at least it’s over. Like the tagline says in the poster, The End. And that makes me happy.