A surprise blockbuster hit and unlikely launching pad for movie stardom, the original Hangover took a brotastic scenario—guys wake up after a bachelor party in Las Vegas, can’t remember a thing—then mined it for gross-out comic gold. Runaway success breeds sequels, or in the case of The Hangover Part II, the exact same movie reset in Bangkok and blessed with the addition of sodomizing Thai transgender strippers (just for, y’know, extra hilarity). This third—and if there’s a benevolent god, the last—entry in the fratboy franchise finds our unholy trinity returning to the original scene of the crime. Wolf Packers Phil (Bradley Cooper), Stu (Ed Helms) and Alan (Zach Galifianakis) are on the road again when they’re kidnapped by John Goodman’s mob boss; it seems the notorious Mr. Chow (Ken Jeong, cringeworthy as ever) has stolen some gold bricks from the gangster, and only the trio can find him. After a brief Tijuana jaunt, guess who ends up back in Sin City?
You’d think that a Vegas reprise might channel some of the first film’s gonzo energy, but other than an early giggle-inducing shocker (two words: giraffe decapitation), Part III has curiously little interest in being even remotely funny. Instead, director Todd Phillips inexplicably aims at making a standard action movie, complete with stock car chases and break-in scenes that only compound the sense of creative bankruptcy. Humor feels like an afterthought: Galifianakis’s clueless manchild act, always a winner, feels pitifully DOA, while Cooper and Helms, having realized they could play their respective douche-dude and nebbish roles in their sleep, proceed to do just that. It’s only in an end-credits coda that the series’s anything-goes envelope-pushing is displayed; that you have to wallow through 100 minutes of Hollywood dry-heaving to get one minute of a Hangover movie is the sort of fandom fuck-you you’d rather forget altogether.