Acting all grown-up, sort of

The Wolfpack is back on the road, but this time there's no pre-wedding indulgence or morning-after discombobulation. There's no exotic hooker, no vomitous excess _ there's not even a single incident of a hangover.

The Hangover Part III
Starring Bradley Cooper, Zach Galifianakis, Ed Helms, Justin Bartha and John Goodman. Directed by Todd Phillips.

Here Phil, Stu, Doug and Alan are at their most sober, and The Hangover Part III _ if not the tamest _ is the least outrageous, least offensive, and least unpleasant of the franchise that took pride in its exhibition of disrespect and infantilism. Take it or leave it; this is a straight buddy comedy as the quartet face off goofy goons in Mexico and Las Vegas. It's not very funny. Well, it's slightly funnier than the previous installment when the foursome had the romp of their lives in crazy-beautiful Thailand. Someone has decided to grow up finally.

The vestige of The Hangover's supreme bad taste rests with Mr Chow (Ken Jeong), the Chinese-American criminal whom we see, as the film opens, being banged up in Bangkok's Klong Prem Prison. Picking up where part two left off, the movie proceeds to have Chow escape from his cell a la The Shawshank Redemption and plunge into the Andaman Sea (in Hangover geography, the prison is right by the edge of a panoramic cliff). Cut to the US: Phil (Bradley Cooper), Stu (Ed Helms) and Doug (Justin Bartha) are taking the increasingly unstable Alan (Zach Galifianakis) to a treatment centre when a mob boss (John Goodman) intercepts them on the highway. Chow has stolen the mob's stash of gold bars, and the Wolfpack is now forced to hunt down the little Chinese rascal. From there, it's pretty straightforward.

The guys race after Chow, from a Tijuana tavern to the corrupt Eden of the original movie, Caesar's Palace in Las Vegas. Chow gets to perform all the smutty, juvenile stunts, from spouting racist remarks to eating from a dog bowl, but it looks like the film is merely struggling to keep up its campaign of scandal-mongering. The itch to go wild is glimpsed among the four friends, but married life has turned Phil and Stu into reasonable men _ well, they almost look mature, and that almost brings tears to our eyes. Even Alan, the ursine boy-man whose most preposterous act in this movie is to indirectly cause the death of his own father, gets to fall in love, and for the first time, this cuddly git actually comes across as more cuddly than a git. Ironically, the most subdued Hangover is perhaps the most watchable, too.

About the author

Writer: Kong Rithdee
Position: Bangkok Post columnist