It’s obvious that The Hangover Part III is meant to be the final film in the series, due to one factor above all else: there’s only so many ways for Justin Bartha to go missing. At this point he’s become like the guy in The Curious Case of Benjamin Button who had been struck by lightning seven times. One hundred years from now, film historians will look back on this poor man/plot device as a great tragedy in American cinema. But of course by this point, we all know that tragedy is far too great a concept to make it’s way into a Hangover film. These movies are not a place for depth, thought, or heart, but rather a place for crude jokes and bizarre one-liners from Zach Galifianakis (a native of North Wilkesboro, by the way). So while The Hangover Part III is most certainly not great cinema, it does a bang-up job on delivering what we’ve come to expect.

The third installment of The Hangover at last gives us a break from its own formula of trouble brought on by accidental drugging — a development likely brought on less by creativity than the filmmakers wanting to save the audience from being stuck in some kind of drug-induced Groundhog Day. The trailers leading up to the film’s release have essentially done all of the exposition, but it’s just not as fun without seeing what happens to that giraffe on the freeway or hearing everyone finish their dirty jokes, and of course who doesn’t want to see as much of John Goodman as possible? This time around the Wolfpack isn’t chasing after their forgotten night to find their friend, but are chasing Greensboro native Ken Jeong, who has stolen $21 million from Goodman, with Justin Bartha taken as collateral. Sure the premise is essentially unchanged, but at least we don’t have another Porky’s meets Pulp Fiction mystery to solve.

The Hangover series has never had much to it. There are lots and lots of things happening, but never much behind it. Sure, they’re looking for their lost and endangered friend, but he’s still little more than a MacGuffin; just something to keep the plot rolling. This may sound like an insult, but we have to remember that’s the reason why we go to a movie like The Hangover. How often do we see a comedy with a forced romance to make sure it has “something for everyone?” While The Hangover Part III has more than it’s share of flaws, I will take a moment to commend the filmmakers for at least not wavering from their formula of ridiculous people in ludicrous situations. Even when a character does find love, it’s just as bizarre and disturbing as we could hope to expect.

While quick pacing and a steady-enough stream of jokes keep The Hangover Part III from falling flat, the series’ lack of heart does seem to have caught up with it. I enjoyed the fresh plot, and was laughing pretty much through the entire film, however I just couldn’t help from feeling like I’d been there before. It was nice, there just wasn’t the same old spark. The characters don’t seem to have developed in the least over three movies, other than for the sake of providing a joke to reference for the nostalgic fan. I will say that the ride has certainly been a fun one — we’ve just run out of track.

My Rating: 2 stars