In a world of stupid movies, “The Hangover III” does not stand out. The Wolf Pack returns with yet another inane movie that rides on Zach Galifianakis’ strange facial expressions and obtrusive figure. However, that’s exactly what the movie is supposed to be: The audience comes in expecting nothing more than the outrageous dude humor of the first two “Hangover” movies, and “The Hangover III” fills that long-anticipated summer movie niche just as it was meant to do.
That’s why “The Hangover III” draws audiences to the cinema. What it’s good for is not its integrity as cinematic art but rather its purpose in our lives — that is, being a movie we get excited for simply because we’ve seen the prequel(s) and must have something to count down to for the summer. It is, in a sense, the picture of modern Hollywood’s “inertia issue”: If there’s no reason to stop, keep producing the same thing as long as it will draw audiences or create some interim fodder (e.g., the illustrious classics “GI Joe: Retaliation” and “House Bunny”). As Galifianakis’s Alan asserts, “I will never change. Never, ever.” Neither has anything about the “Hangover” movies. “The Hangover III,” as it first begins, does feel like the cheap function of a public Orgasmatron — to reference Woody Allen’s “Sleeper” — in a gruesome and somewhat gratuitous scene of a mistakenly decapitated giraffe. (Almost funny — only because of Alan’s heinous stupidity.)
On the brighter side, however, “The Hangover III” does make for a serviceable summer movie — which, as mentioned before, was its intention. It does deliver laughs and has a good balance of grand action scenes and nonchalant humor sprinkled throughout the dialogue. (Admittedly, as a Las Vegan, I must also mention that most of the shots of Las Vegas are either beautiful or remarkably accurate to the sensation of the city.) The movie, like most summer flicks, is still engrossing as it moves along despite its amazing predictability. And, of course, looking at Bradley Cooper on screen for an hour and 40 minutes is hardly unenjoyable.
But credit must be given where it is due: Galifianakis — while there was nothing wrong with the performances of the other leads — truly does carry the movie through where it would have wholly failed otherwise with lines alone. If anything, Alan’s antics are worth at least a grimace and a hooted “oh-ho!” of shock, and the springboard his half-lines and quirks give to his fellow actors allows the dialogue to press forward when it seemingly would have had to end. Galifianakis’ acting is the substance that makes filling the almost two hours possible. As if this were not enough, the movie really would not be able to exist without Alan; he is the central source of conflict in the plots of all three “Hangover” movies. Without Galifianakis’ talent for acting unabashedly stupid and utterly frustrating, both the plot and the dialogue of the movie would have fallen down completely. “The Hangover” without Alan is like “Harold and Kumar” without Harold or Kumar. It would be a total nonstarter.
Now to the real question. Should you go see “The Hangover III”? Yes, you should. It’s exactly the summer movie we want to get excited about, and it would be a shame not to respect the healthy American tradition of summer movie-going for the sake of filling summer days with fun. Our generation owes many elated moments and jokes with friends to “The Hangover” series, and the satisfaction of laughing at references we know all too well from the other two movies is the reason threequels exist. Plus, it’s okay to go to a stupid movie. It’s summer. Have fun — why not?