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'The Hangover: Part III' review: One final, funny howl

*** (out of four)

If by chance you own pet dogs, chickens or giraffes, do not bring them to “The Hangover: Part III.” Things don’t go well for animals in the movie.

Things never go well for the Wolf Pack, as they are once again in over their heads in this funny and quick-moving finale to a trilogy that didn’t need to be a trilogy, but made improvements with each film. Actually, “The Hangover” now bests the “Iron Man” franchise by a half-star (8-7.5 total) in my book. So there’s that.

Since no one’s dazedly chasing down clues from the previous night’s intoxicated mayhem, “The Hangover: Part III” diverts enough from the formula to avoid complaints that the movie’s just redundant. (Many incorrectly made that claim about “Part II,” which was a funnier, less misogynistic step up from the overrated original.)

With Doug (Justin Bartha) kidnapped as collateral, Phil (Bradley Cooper), Stu (Ed Helms) and Alan (Zach Galififanakis) must track down elusive international criminal/gangster and wild card Mr. Chow (Ken Jeong) and retrieve the gold he stole from organized crime boss Marshall (John Goodman). The timing couldn’t be worse—as if there’s ever a good time to be stuck between a killer who favors pig masks and another who finds massive destruction hilarious—considering the more stable Wolf Pack members have just tried to intervene on Alan’s reckless lifestyle. When a pal accidentally decapitates the giraffe they bought in order to feed it from his tree house, you don’t shrug and say, “He can surely fix his issues himself.”

I wish director Todd Phillips, who co-wrote parts two and three, would find humor only in Alan as a dumb, giant baby rather than mocking someone who at times shows signs of mental illness or developmental disability. Phillips also still finds anal rape just a stitch. And why don’t these guys even think about how worried their wives are during these situations? Yet rather than leaning on countless over-the-top situations, “Part III” capitalizes on the comic skills of its cast, who have all come a long way as movie stars and onscreen partners.

Galifianakis can get a laugh just by crying as Alan, and I love that Alan wrote to Chow in prison just to say, “OMG, the McRib is back.” Helms cracks me up by shouting, “Are you out of your mind?” Good comedy often comes from character and a funny person digging in, not necessarily doing the absolute craziest thing imaginable.

Don’t worry, “The Hangover Part III” has its bananas moments. I just like that the franchise ends as a more balanced meal.

Watch Matt on “You & Me This Morning,” Friday at 6:55 a.m. on WCIU, the U

mpais@tribune.com

 

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