The Hangover Part III brings a disappointing end to the wolf-pack’s side-splitting road trip disasters.

The first Hangover movie surprised audiences with an outrageous morning after as the wolf-pack – uptight dentist Stu (Ed Helms), laid-back Phil (Bradley Cooper) and the unhinged Alan (Zach Galifianakis) – rescued their friend Doug (Justin Bartha), on the eve of his wedding, from the clutches of crazy international bad-guy Chow (Ken Jeong). The Hangover Part II followed in a similar stag-do vein, this time with the action relocated to Thailand.

Sadly the final instalment to this trilogy of mayhem lacks the outrageous comedy of its forebears. In a brave decision, series director Todd Phillips leaves the successful formula behind as the wolf-pack take Alan on an intervention road trip. As usual the trip is interrupted by a kidnapping, but there’s not a drunken blackout in sight.

A Hangover movie without an actual hangover is a risky move that doesn’t quite pay off. The tone of this final offering is much altered, stripped of the ridiculous fun that made the previous instalments so hysterical. Instead, the movie plays heavily on the consequences of wolf-pack failure, gun violence kicks in and the movie runs out of steam as it focuses on the exasperated, loud mouth reactions of Stu and Phil.

The script from Philips and Craig Mazin is loaded with nods to the earlier movies – Ed’s Las Vegas Wife (Heather Graham) makes a fleeting appearance as does Black Doug (Mike Epps) – but these nostalgic references add little to Part III’s comedy. Todd Phillips and Craig Mazin’s script is no match for the inventiveness of Jon Lucas and Scott Moore’s original. Even the trilogy’s most outrageously silly character, Chow – always at his best when encouraged to improvise – struggles under the weight of rigid scripting and is neither surprising nor interesting enough to propel the movie to the laugh-out-loud moments it so desperately needs.

Yet The Hangover Part III is not without its successes. Alan gets some well needed, tender character development that brings the trilogy neatly to a close with the help of an endearing role by Melissa McCarthy.

Falling short of the hysterical gags of parts one and two, The Hangover Part III is a disappointing goodbye to this well loved franchise. A hilarious treat for fans as the credits roll offers a taste of what this final movie could, and should, have been.

VERDICT:   ✭ ✭ ✩ ✩ ✩    2/5

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