After a commercially successful but critically derided Part II, The Hangover gang returns to try to make things right for the finale marketed as "The End". Spastic man-child Alan (played by the trilogy's comedic heavy lifter Zach Galifianakis) is off his meds and struggling with the death of his father. At the behest of their wives, Alan's fellow "Wolfpack" members Phil (Bradley Cooper); Stu (Ed Helms) and the often-absent Doug (Justin Bartha) agree to drive him to a treatment facility in Arizona. On the way, they are accosted by a man named Marshall (John Goodman) who has unfinished business with Mr Chow (Ken Jeong). So Marshall kidnaps Doug (natch) and charges the remaining trio to find the elusive Chow.
After Part II was lambasted for simply remaking the first film, this entry shies away from the "waking up and not remembering the huge night before" formula that is now so familiar. Unfortunately, they didn't bother to replace it with anything. The plot of this film barely exists, and everyone involved seems to think there is something inherently hilarious about placing the three central characters in the same place and have them say "What the f***" a lot.
The unassuming insouciance of the first film is long gone, replaced by a creative complacency that cannot be justified. Galifianakis' unique presence keeps things watchable, and the few laughs that emerge belong to him, but on the whole there is a criminal dearth of humour. The first film worked by offering a fresh take on some familiar tropes.
That was only four years ago, but now the whole enterprise feels as stale as yesterday's popcorn. Hard-core fans of the franchise may coast along on their goodwill for the movies, but casual cinema-goers should stay far away.
Cast: Ed Helms, Bradley Cooper, Zach Galifianakis
Director: Todd Phillips
Running Time: 100 mins
• The Hangover Part III is out now.