The Wolfpack reunites for a third, and hopefully final, time but the results are as vacuous and puerile as ever. Better than Part II, if only because it attempts to do something slightly different with the formula, but nothing can save this from disaster – save for the sensibilities of a pubescent teen.
A surprise hit back in 2009, The Hangover took a simple premise, a trio of essentially unknown actors, and director Todd Phillips’ particular brand of frat boy humour and spun it into a riotous caper movie that proved hugely successful all over the world. Beyond making stars of Bradley Cooper, Zach Galifianakis and Ed Helms, the film spawned a bigger budget sequel. While The Hangover Part II fell foul of pretty much every hurdle in the franchise playbook – rehashing the same scenario in a new setting (Bangkok), introducing even wackier elements looking only to trump those of its predecessor, failing to advance the plot or muster an ounce of the first film’s inherent likability – it was also monstrously successful.
And so here comes The Hangover Part III. For everything that is wrong with the film – and that encompasses a hell of a lot – Phillips & Co at least set out to do something a little bit different this time – hell, our heroes don’t even have hangovers!! Instead, the throwaway character from the first film, Chow (Ken Jeong), who had an engorged role in Part II (we can only imagine for the sole reason that he is Asian) is now central to the film.
After escaping from a Thai prison, Chow heads to Mexico where he contacts the only man he can trust, best friend Alan (Galifianakis). However, Alan is about to be committed after causing the death of his father and decapitating a giraffe (don’t ask). Together with Phil and Stu they are charged by Las Vegas gangster Marshall (John Goodman) to bring Chow in – who has apparently stolen a stash of gold. As collateral, poor fourth wheel Doug (Justin Bartha) is taken as hostage.
What follows is a deplorable parade of racism, misogyny, homophobia and generally inane behaviour as Chow drags the guys from one implausible situation to the next, and everyone screams at the top of their voices as bad things keep happening. Any wit, intelligence or geniality evaporates into the Nevada desert long before the action – inevitably – takes everyone back to Vegas for a finale about which nobody cares.
The Hangover Part III is better than Part II for the simple reason that it breaks away from the formula and in amongst the relentless barrage of idiocy and profanity, it did raise a smile a half dozen or so times. But it is small recompense for the deluge of drivel audiences are forced to wade through, and yes, real hangovers are less painful, nauseous and debilitating.
After acknowledging he dropped the ball with the diabolical train wreck that was TRANSFORMERS: REVENGE OF THE FALLEN, director Michael Bay promised audiences something darker and more coherent for the third part of his epic, but so far dramatically inert, Hasbro-inspired trilogy. But when your film makes close to $1 billion at the worldwide box office it’s difficult to argue that the formula isn’t working. So, narrative structure and character development be damned, TRANSFORMERS: DARK OF THE MOON is here and it’s bigger, louder and dumber than ever. The film opens with its strongest sequence – a whistle-stop re-imagining of the 1960s Space Race, rewritten to reveal it was actually a race to reach an alien craft that crashed on the moon. The Americans beat the Soviets to the wreckage only to discover a Russian probe has already pinched an important piece of alien tech. When Optimus discovers this, he returns to the ship himself and retrieves its hidden cargo and Autobot pilot. Soon after this, everything gets progressively incoherent.
While storytelling has never been Bay’s strong suit, he’s proved himself extremely talented at casting top-drawer character actors to bolster his leads. T3DOTM proves no exception, with the likes of John Malkovich, Frances McDormand, Patrick Dempsey and Ken Jeong brought on board to perform bafflingly inappropriate slapstick comedy routines whenever giant robots momentarily cease destroying major cities or each other. Shia LeBoeuf bumbles around as our presumed hero, this time accompanied by underwear model Rosie Huntingdon-Whiteley after Megan Fox was unceremoniously fired shortly before shooting began. Although the script was hastily rewritten to introduce her as a new character, it’s painfully clear the female lead was always meant to be Fox’s Mikaela. On top of all the script’s other innumerable faults, we now have Sam Witwicky risking life and limb to save a girl we barely know.
Very little can be said to convince potential viewers to stay away from T3DOTM. It is ghastly, lowbrow, mind numbing filmmaking of the most extravagant and offensive kind, but is almost guaranteed to be one of the year’s highest grossers. Suffice to say that if you enjoyed the previous films or delight in sticking your head in a metal bucket of igniting fireworks then go buy your over-priced ticket and have a blast. Be prepared for 153 minutes of shiny cars, gorgeous women, curiously innovative architecture, cash-grabbing celebrities and enough sparks, crashes and fireballs to induce an apoplectic fit, all filmed in the glossiest, most fetishistic manner imaginable by a director you can almost hear panting behind the camera. While the 3D photography succeeds in the same way Cameron utilised it in AVATAR, it remains an unnecessary gimmick that only helps trigger your inevitable migraine. Rather than being entertaining, T3DOTM is exhausting and left me feeling violated and physically beaten down. Almost anything else currently showing is preferable, although worryingly TRANSFORMERS appears to have colonized every screen in town.