The worst comedy I’ve seen in years.
Premise: While bringing Alan to a treatment center, the Wolf Pack is bombarded by a Vegas heavyweight, who tells them that they must bring him their nemesis, Chow, or Doug will be killed.
About: Director Todd Phillips shared writing duties on this one with Hangover 2 scribe, Craig Mazin. Mazin was scraping the bottom of the comedy barrel for awhile, writing a couple of “Scary Movie” sequels, before getting a huge break to work on Hangover 2. He parlayed that into the hit film, “Identify Thief,” and now Hangover 3.
Writers: Todd Phillips and Craig Mazin (original characters by Jon Lucas and Scott Moore)
Details: 100 minutes
There’s this song by the Lumineers that’s out right now where the chorus goes: “Ho!… Hey!”
I would officially like to change those lyrics to: “No!… Way!” in response to this movie.
I don’t want to go overboard here but people need to be held responsible for this atrocity. I’m not going to ask for the equivalent of the Nuremberg Trials but I kind of want to ask for the equivalent to the Nuremberg trials. Craig Mazin was in full “Scary Movie” mode here. Todd Phillips decided to make a movie that didn’t have a single laugh in it.
This was bad, folks. Really really really really bad.
Like, those guys owe me my money back, bad. This wasn’t even a movie. I understand the concept behind cash grabs. But these humor rapists went a step further and laughed in our faces as they stole our money. So I take what I said earlier back. There was one joke that worked. The one that was on us.
The plot? Okay, um, sheesh. It went something like this. Alan (Zach G.) is acting weird so everyone stages an intervention so he’ll go get help at a treatment facility. Um – WHAT?? That’s not how interventions work. Interventions are for when you drink too much or do too many drugs. When you’re, like, addicted to something. So not five minutes in and already the plot doesn’t make sense.
So the “Wolf Pack” (Alan, Doug, Stew, and Phil) is on its way to this facility when John Goodman runs them off the road and tells them, inexplicably, that Chow stole money from him a long time ago and since they kind of know Chow, he’s taking Doug and giving them 72 hours (because “why not” 72 hours!) to find Chow and bring him to him.
They eventually meet up with Chow in Tijuana (because “why not” Tijuana!) who quickly figures out what they’re up to and decides to help them. So they go to Chow’s ex-house where he was storing the gold he stole from John Goodman, break in, and steal it. But just as they’re all about to leave, Chow locks them in and takes off with the gold! Oh no!
What’s worse, they’re snagged the very next day by John Goodman, again, who informs them that they just broke into HIS HOUSE and stole HIS GOLD. That wily Chow tricked them good! So now they have to get Chow again, who’s driven off to…. VEGAS. Oh rats! It’s going to end where it all began. Or something. Kill me now. It cannot get any worse than this. I’m done with this summary. It pains me too much to relive this atrocity.
Okay, probably the most bizarre thing about this script is that either Phillips or Maizen seems to hate animals. As you’ve probably seen in the commercials, Alan is driving a giraffe he just bought down the highway. This is the first scene of the movie. Well, what you don’t see is the giraffe’s head gets decapitated by the overpass – WHICH WE SEE – and it goes flying up and landing in the windshield of the car behind them.
What. The. Fuck.
You just gruesomely killed a giraffe – one of the most beloved animals on earth – in your very first freaking scene? Are you that stupid? No, seriously. Are you that stupid? One of the first things they teach you in screenwriting is not to kill animals onscreen. So Phillips and Mazin take a giraffe and decapitate it? And think it’s funny? Right at that moment, Miss Scriptshadow turned to me and said, “I want to leave.”
But that’s not it. After that wonderful scene to start the comedy, in the very next scene we watch as Alan’s dad has a heart attack and dies! So we just watched a giraffe get killed, which is then followed by a character dying of a heart attack. This is a comedy, right? No, seriously. This is a comedy, right? I’m just checking because I thought comedies were supposed to be funny. Not have a bunch of killing and dying.
Oh, but there’s more! Chow kills a chicken later, smothering it with a pillow until it stops moving. Then snaps a couple of dogs’ necks, which was thankfully off-screen, although I’m sure Mazin originally had it onscreen and someone with some sense finally came to these morons and said, “We can’t have this much animal-killing in a comedy.” Phillips and Mazin were likely pissed but allowed it in a compromise.
But that’s just the beginning of the problems here. The beauty about the original Hangover’s premise was that all the exposition was taken care of in 30 seconds. Doug’s missing. We need to find him to get him back to his wedding in time, but we were so wasted last night that we don’t remember anything. That was it! That’s all we needed to know, which allowed the writers to just have fun with the premise.
Of the first 60 minutes of Hangover 3, I’d say about 30 minutes of it is dedicated to exposition. We have Alan needing an intervention, then finding a place for him to go to, then needing a reason for the Wolf Pack to have to take him, then Chow breaking out of jail, then John Goodman talking forever about how Chow stole money from him, then why we need to go down to Tijuana, then why we need to break into this house, then why we need to go back to Vegas. There was rarely a scene where exposition wasn’t needed. Which was why the movie was so incredibly effing boring. Exposition = boring.
And the thing about exposition is that you use it so the audience understands what’s going on. The irony here, then, is that the more they used it, the more confusing things got, because audiences hate exposition. They hate constant explaining. So they tune out if there’s too much of it, and you’re actually accomplishing the opposite of what you set out to do.
Then there was Alan and Chow. It’s important to understand how to use characters in screenwriting, something Mazin apparently forgot. There are certain characters who are good at certain things, and therefore should only be used for those certain things, and characters who are good in small doses, which is why they should only be used in small doses.
Alan is the kind of character who should never be driving a movie. He’s the kind of character who’s best when reacting to situations. He needs to be off to the side, saying funny things here and there. That’s when he’s at his best. The second you try to make him the main character, you’re done. Because he was never meant to be a main character. Quirky super-weird characters just don’t have the meat necessary to drive a story. And therefore, Mazin and Phillips take one of the funnier comedy characters of the last decade and make him annoying. Cause there’s so damn much of him.
Speaking of “so damn much,” the same can be said of Chow. Chow is a classic “small doses” character. He needs to be popping out of trunks naked, not sitting in apartments giving long monologues. Chow sounds weird when he talks a lot. His accent isn’t as funny. His dialogue feels forced. Because he was NEVER MEANT TO TALK THAT MUCH. This is the case of the writers misreading what made Hangover good. Yes, Chow and Alan were hilarious in the initial movie. But they were hilarious for the specific reason that they were fitting their roles. Take them out of those roles and they don’t work anymore.
Many people have said that the actors didn’t even look like they wanted to be in the movie – that they all knew this was a cash grab and therefore phoned it in. I agree that they look bored, but I don’t think it’s because it was a cash grab. I think it’s because the writing sucked. How do you get into your character when what your character is doing doesn’t even make sense? Or when you can’t justify the existence of your character in a scene? Or in the movie! You can’t make something out of nothing. You can’t make something feel real and honest when nothing about them is real or honest.
I suppose I could go on here, but what would be the point? This was a misfire on every level. I actually liked The Hangover 2. Sure, they ripped off the plot of the first film, but at least it was a plot that worked. This was a never-ending mess of bad plot points. So much so that I’m bringing back an old rating that’s been dead on this site for awhile. I’m sorry, this was that bad. Mazin and Phillips owe me and everyone else who saw this movie our money back.
[ ] wasn’t for me
[ ] worth the read
[ ] impressive
[ ] genius
What I learned: Beware of over-plotting, which you’ll know is happening if you’re constantly having to use exposition throughout your screenplay. Usually, the best comedy premises are set up quickly. If you’re still having to explain where your characters are going and why halfway into your story, you’re probably over-plotting your script.