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Let us pray 'The Hangover 3' is the last one

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Traditionally, the third installment of any hit film franchise tends to be a bit lackluster, but this thoroughly listless, unimaginative, and crass sequel is so dire and laugh-free, that at moments you can almost hear the sound of absurdly large checks being deposited into the cast members’ ample bank accounts.

Yes, the Wolfpack is back, shambling through another desultory exercise in contractual obligation, but these rude dudes all seem so partied out, so plainly disinterested, that it becomes the movie equivalent of catching the cross-country red eye after a three-day bourbon bender and running a marathon.

Having exhausted all credible ways to simply restage the original’s raucous bachelor party aftermath in the last run-through, this time the plot takes ever darker turns into crime and anarchy. Manic weirdo man-child Alan (Zach Galifianakis) has degenerated into borderline sociopathic self-absorption after his callous obliviousness inadvertently kills both his pet giraffe and his own father. Alan’s mysteriously loyal friends Phil (Bradley Cooper), Stu (Ed Helms), and Doug (Justin Bartha) successfully stage an intervention but, en route to the rehab facility, are abducted by a gang of thugs led by vengeful mobster Marshall (an ever-scowling John Goodman). It seems this intense baddie had his $21 million large stash of gold bars ripped off by the Wolfpack’s unpredictable, treacherous “frenemy” Leslie Chow (Ken Jeong), and it has become their problem since goofy Alan remains pen pals with the culprit. Using the series’ perennial victim Doug as collateral, the guys are tasked with tracking down the frenzied fugitive and turning him over. Why a violent professional criminal would trust this sensitive job to a group of suburban schmucks with a track record of screwing up is as inexplicable as why Marshall’s goons wore Porky Pig masks during the kidnapping, only to expose their faces a few minutes later.

Blame for this whole lamentable enterprise falls squarely on the shoulders of director Todd Phillips, who opted to ditch the laughs to make a gritty action flick instead.

The bored stars insist that this is the end of the road for the series. Based on what’s limped to the screen, we believe them.

The Hangover 3

Dir. Todd Phillips; writ. Todd Phillips, Craig Mazin, Scott Moore; feat. Bradley Cooper, Zach Galifianakis, Ed Helms, Justin Bartha. (R)
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