Tuesday, 4 June 2013

The Thin White Dude's Reviews - The Hangover Part III

Directed by: Todd Phillips

Produced by: Todd Phillips
Daniel Goldberg

Screenplay by: Todd Phillips
Craig Mazin

Based on: Characters created by
Jon Lucas
Scott Moore

Starring: Bradley Cooper
Ed Helms
Zach Galifianakis
Ken Jeong
Heather Graham
Jeffrey Tambor
Justin Bartha
Mike Epps
John Goodman

Music by: Christophe Beck

Cinematography by: Lawrence Sher

Editing by: Debra Neil-Fisher
Jeff Groth

Studio(s): Legendary Pictures
Green Hat Films

Distributed by: Warner Bros. Pictures

Release date(s): May 23, 2013 (United States)
May 24, 2013 (United Kingdom)

Running time: 100 minutes

Country: United States

Language: English

Production budget: $103 million

Box office revenue (as of publication): $199, 240, 908

Hey gang, so I took the weekend off, but you can't say I lack dedication to my craft, if my unconstructed rambles can indeed be considered as such. Despite being absolutely skint (I put Queen's University to blame for that: brilliant minds that they are schedule an exam on a Saturday and I miss £200 worth of work, just sublime), I'm making a brave effort (especially with my computer dogging up) to keep up with all the latest in the cinemas. Thanks goodness for my Strand loyalty vouchers and a QFT membership. So, for as much of the shebang as I can keep up with ('all' is a bit of a strong declarative, methinks), keep your eyes posted!

"And slowly I turn...," and there stands before me The Hangover Part III. I have a bit of a storied history with this series of movies, so here's a bit of a preamble. Admittedly, I was one of the (vocal) minority who didn't like the first Hangover, which was a surprise hit back in 2009. Second time round, same old scenario, bumped up to eleven, The Hangover Part II was a horrible bit of work that would have been banned alongside Lucio Fulci and Ruggero Deodato pictures during the Video Nasty's scare of the 1980s. This time round, The Wolfpack (when are Daddy Long Legs and Kevin Nash gonna start picking up royalties?), after Alan (Zach Galifianakis) loses his father and has stopped taking his medication, reunite to take him to a rehab facility. However, on the way, they become involved in a plot involving the recent escapee Leslie Chow (Ken Jeong), who has stolen half of a $42 million gold heist from bad dude Marshall (John Goodman), and so the guys have to get in contact with Chow or else one of them (the one who always ends up missing) gets plugged. You get the story, roll the tape!

To start with the good on the film, I've been vocal about this in the past, but I think that Lawrence Sher's cinematography on these pictures contributes to a lot of what people (besides me) seem to enjoy about them. Not only does he handle the camera with grace, doing some great location shooting, he does know how to shoot a comedic scene. There's a real natural eye for how to make the scenes at least 'appear' funnier than they are. The case is no different here, and I hope that he continues to have a fine career. Also, the change in tone of the film to more of a caper/heist genre benefits in the expansion of Ken Jeong's Leslie Chow. In the past, I've found Jeong very annoying in his various capacities as a screen actor, playing the perennial 'crazy Asian' caricature in about eight different films I've had to review. Here though, there is a bit of depth and nuance to the part, and indeed, he's good enough that he threatens (and succeeds) in stealing the show from the wretched Wolfpack. While I didn't laugh beyond the sparse titter or two, most of them were as a result of Ken Jeong, so well done Ken, you now have my curiosity.

This is where we really get going. I've made no bones about the fact that I dislike the first two movies with an avid passion. I would be sitting in the auditoriums weeping and yowling like Tom Hardy in Bronson being surrounded by mental patients dancing to Pet Shop Boys, everyone else laughing while I sat there dumbly impotent in my intolerance to this terror. But my thesis to The Hangover Part III is different. Did I like it? No, same as before. However, the first two Hangover's at least provoked a reaction, one of revulsion, granted, but a reaction nevertheless. In the case of Part Trois, I sat in the auditorium with indifference to much of what was proceeding. Unlike the genre switch of Fast Five, The Hangover Part III's trade doesn't work, the screenplay by director Todd Phillips and Craig Mazin really stinking of lazy and tacked-on. It's like they are wringing the dishcloth until there is simply nothing left to give out, although that ship has long since sank. The movie was predictable as could be, and I must say that I saw must of the 'gags' coming a mile away, of course this thing is going to happen, he's going to do that, he's going to end up with that, it was just such murder-by-numbers material. Christophe Beck's score is rubbish again, being overindulgent and of the Emotional Heartstrings Orchestra variety, blah blah blah. Everyone involved, including the primary three actors, seem bored out of their minds and frankly, if no one involved is going to make an effort to try and push for the last hurdle, then neither am I. It's a sad moment for a movie when my highlights are hearing extracts from Black Sabbath's N.I.B. and Nine Inch Nails' Hurt, two bands who I'm going to see and who remind of what great art can be. I know I'm going off on one and not making a particularly constructive analysis of the details, but the prospect of revisiting this dribblesome bore of a film makes my eyes start to feel heavy (I'm yawning as I type this) and see an early night sleep as a tempting prospect. There's a shot towards the conclusion of the film (no spoilers, not that it'd make a difference) in which The Wolfpack cross a street from left-to-right in a shot that visually invokes the cover for The Beatles' Abbey Road. I just can't help but thinking this is a shoddy attempt at self-mythologisation, I mean, really? You're going to try and compare The Wolfpack (royalties from which I want a finders fee from 'Big Sexy' Kevin Nash) to The Beatles is simply absurd. This band of ingrates will never rise to the pantheon of the greats in the way that Lennon, McCartney, Harrison and Starr did, and I'm content just leaving it at that!

Frankly, I'm posting this conclusion about two or three days after starting this review. To me, there was little to no effort on the part of much of the cast and crew involved to make this Hanover instalment anything worth watching. It is only through the performance of Ken Jeong, who has finally convinced me, after about nine or ten movies, that he is a screen actor to look out for, and Lawrence Sher's cinematography, which was admittedly terrific, that redeems this from being in the bowels of cinema history. However, it is still one hundred minutes of one of the most outright boring films I can remember seeing for quite some time. The thing about the other Hangover films is that even though I didn't like them, I actively reacted to them. Even if it was a negative reaction, I still reacted. Here, I was in a primary state of indifference throughout, and if someone was to kick me in the head while watching The Hangover Part III, I doubt I'd be roused from my seat, bored to sleep as I was.

The Thin White Dude's Prognosis - 2.9/10

The Thin White Dude's Self-Diagnosis - Sore (broke my leg press record at the gym yesterday and now glad to have my feet up and not be forced to endure another terrible movie. I'm watching Leon: The Professional today!)

P.S. What in the blue hell did the studios spend $103 million on?

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