“The Hangover Part III” has a high body count for a "comedy", and not all the victims are human. Among the dead, I counted four people, two dogs, a giraffe and a flock of crazed, cannibalistic, cocaine-addicted cocks. Detailing the human casualties may count as a spoiler, so I’ll focus on the critters: The roosters are blown away, tossed out of windows, and smothered with a pillow. The dogs are poisoned with Demerol. Because you’ve seen the trailers and the commercials, you already know what happens to the poor giraffe owned by Alan (Zach Galifianakis), one of the franchise's recurring characters. What you may not know is that none of this violence is funny, not even when Mr. Chow (Ken Jeong) comments on the animal cruelty by asking Stu (Ed Helms), “What? You’re PETA now?”
“The Hangover Part III” is the second unnecessary sequel to 2009's "The Hangover." It was preceded by the reprehensible “The Hangover Part II,” which catered to its scared, straight white male audience’s baser instincts and made even more money than the original. This one opens with two holes, one in a prison wall and the other in the windshield of a moving car. The first hole is made by Leslie Chow, who must have seen “The Shawshank Redemption.” The second is made by the giraffe, causing a massive freeway accident. Both affect the Wolfpack, the group consisting of Alan, Stu, Alan’s brother-in-law, Doug (Justin Bartha) and group leader Phil (Bradley Cooper). After Alan’s highway mishap inadvertently kills someone, his mother and sister stage an intervention to get him sent away for psychiatric treatment. His Wolfpack buddies offer to drive him there. En route, they run afoul of Marshall (John Goodman), an incredibly pissed off thief looking for Chow. Marshall wants the $23 million in gold bricks Chow stole from him, and has reason to believe the escaped Chow will connect with his prison pen pal, Alan. Marshall sends three of the Wolfpack members to find Chow, keeping Doug as collateral.
The Wolfpack take a detour to Tijuana looking for Chow, but “The Hangover Part III” eventually returns them to the scene of their crimes in the original film: Las Vegas. During the journey, director Todd Phillips and company acknowledge the previous installments with cameos, lines of dialogue and visual cues. I found these to be hollow attempts at catering to hardcore fans of the series, but your mileage may vary. Heather Graham, Mike Epps and the smoking monkey (the best thing about “Hangover 2”) return briefly. Only the monkey emerges unscathed, and she doesn’t even get a loosey to smoke.
The main focus this time is on Alan and Chow, two characters who are better in small doses. Chow is a violent, drug-fueled madman who veers dangerously close to Asian coonery. Alan is a selfish prick whose charm passed its expiration date two movies ago. Both cause death and destruction wherever they go, but while the Wolfpack’s interaction with Chow is always under duress, there is no reason for them to continue associating with Alan. When Stu tells the group “We’re stuck with [Alan]. We’re gonna spend the rest of our lives with him because we’re all he has now,” it isn’t a poignant declaration of love for a friend. It’s a death sentence. The press materials claim that “Hangover” fans would love to have Alan as a friend, which is either a testament to the success of Galifianakis’s brand of comedy or some warped form of fanboy Stockholm Syndrome.