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The Hangover Part III Blu-ray + DVD + Digital HD UltraViolet Review

The Hangover Part III (2013) movie poster The Hangover Part III

Theatrical Release: May 23, 2013 / Running Time: 100 Minutes / Rating: R

Director: Todd Phillips / Writers: Todd Phillips, Craig Mazin (screenplay); Jon Lucas, Scott Moore (characters)

Cast: Bradley Cooper (Phil Wenneck), Ed Helms (Stu Price), Zach Galifianakis (Alan Garner), Justin Bartha (Doug Billings), Ken Jeong (Mr. Leslie Chow), John Goodman (Marshall), Melissa McCarthy (Cassie), Jeffrey Tambor (Sid Garner), Heather Graham (Jade), Mike Epps (Black Doug), Sasha Barrese (Tracy Billings), Jamie Chung (Lauren Price), Sondra Currie (Linda Garner), Gillian Vigman (Stephanie Wenneck), Oliver Cooper (Pharmacy Assistant), Mike Vallely (Nico), Grant Holmquist (Tyler), Oscar Torre (Officer Vasquez), Jonny Coyne (Hector)

Own The Hangover Part III on Blu-ray Combo Pack and Digital Download 10/8
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People loved The Hangover for its creative, unpredictable comedy. They were a lot less crazy about The Hangover Part II's decision to recreate every beat from the original film.
Gladly, director Todd Phillips got the message and thus the seemingly needless The Hangover Part III is not only a huge improvement over its immediate predecessor, but about as enjoyable as the first movie without being too derivative of it.

Hangover III opened a day ahead of a competitive Memorial Day Weekend to undeniably diminished demand and lowered expectations. After all, it came just two years after a sequel that was more of a relocated remake and though the goodwill earned by the original 2009 film ensured another wildly and unusually profitable showing for an R-rated comedy, viewers were not eager to revisit Part II or hungry to spend more time with "The Wolfpack." This series clearly not conceived as one had the distinct feel of "you've seen one, you've seen them all." Part III defies that seemingly safe assumption, but it had an expectedly tough time convincing the original movie's fans of that after the disappointments of such a brazen exercise in unoriginality.

Friends Stu (Ed Helms), Alan (Zach Galifianakis), and Phil (Bradley Cooper) find themselves back in Las Vegas in "The Hangover Part III."

The Wolfpack is back and this time not just out of financial responsibility to a proven formula, but for a worthwhile story. Though Phillips and Craig Mazin share screenplay credit as they did on Hangover II, they are less than slavishly devoted to Jon Lucas and Scott Moore's original script. That script's non-linear narrative and Memento-esque structure was critical to the film's unexpected success, but it was all much too distinctive to reproduce beat by beat without people noticing and objecting. Gladly, Phillips and Mazin discard nearly all of the series' hallmarks (the opening phone call, the drug-clouded memories, the wild shenanigans in a notorious city) and just focus on the characters, their camaraderie, and their reactions to out-of-control situations.

The wise decision is again made to present this as more of a dark crime action adventure than a comedy. As much is evident in the opening scene in which a riot has broken out in prison outside Bangkok from which Mr. Chow (Ken Jeong) has simply broken out, going Andy Dufresne behind a "Hang in there" kitten poster. Humor pervades the film, but gladly it's not coasting on Part II's cringeworthy outrageousness or trying to top the rowdy antics of the original film.

John Goodman plays Marshall, a crime boss first mentioned in a throwaway line from the original film. Alan meets his match in Cassie (Melissa McCarthy), a sassy Vegas pawn shop owner.

Alan, the odd man-child perfectly portrayed by Zach Galifianakis, has always been the lovable comic heart of these films and Part III does well by putting him front and center at the start. In his forties but still living carefree in the house of his wealthy parents, Alan is off his meds and in need of an intervention. His buddies, idolized schoolteacher Phil (Bradley Cooper) and dentist Stu (Ed Helms), agree to give him just that by taking him on a two-day drive to a rehab center in Arizona. Why a two-day drive instead of an 80-minute flight? Well, Phillips has kind of made a career out of the road trip and there's a lot more potential for unexpected turns and hilarity in a minivan than in coach or first class.

Indeed, it's only a matter of time before the group's reliably absentee fourth friend Doug (Justin Bartha) takes leave, this time as the genuine hostage of an irate crime boss named Marshall (John Goodman). Brilliantly, Phillips and Mazin have turned a throwaway line in the original film into the seed of an idea that drives this outing. The Wolfpack's past reckless misadventures have caught up with them, if only for their repeated association with international criminal Chow, who has gone off-grid post-prison escape, having stolen $21 million in gold bars from Marshall. Marshall and his men, including "Black Doug" (Mike Epps), the utterer of the aforementioned throwaway line, have narrowed their focus to these four relatively ordinary friends because Alan has maintained contact with the excitable Chinese fugitive.

And so, another adventure begins at a bus stop in Tijuana.

Alan (Zach Galifianakis) discovers that "Carlos" (Grant Holmquist) is no longer a baby. Elevated in prominence, Leslie Chow (Ken Jeong) remains as crazy as ever.

As suggested by Jeong's prominent fourth billing, Mr. Chow has been upgraded to essentially a co-lead and an honorary Wolfpack member who makes Alan look stable. Starting with an elaborate break-in at Chow's seized, secure former home, the twisty events play out in the present with a fitting amount of callbacks to raucous past excursions.
The journey appropriately returns the gang to Las Vegas, where they reconnect with some old friends, settled-down former escort Jade (Heather Graham) and her no longer infant child (Grant Holmquist, whose reprisal provides the most potent of the film's few surprisingly poignant moments), and make a new one in a tough Billy Joel-loving pawn shop owner (Melissa McCarthy).

Just when you thought this series had run its course and was sure to see its entertainment value further decline as it struggled to invent variations on memorable exchanges and misjudgments, Phillips and his cast provide plenty of surprises and a 100-minute reminder of the original film's abundant appeal. Instead of trying to raise the shock value bar and honor a whole bunch of insignificant traditions, Phillips tones down some of the lunacy and treats these characters like real friends in a tight situation, a relatable basis for a taut, cinematic, and fun adventure where the comedy flows but never at the expense of an investable story.

The film even surprisingly yet admirably abandons the popular missing camera device used at the end of its two predecessors and opts for a downright tender, almost touching finale. But, fear not, those wanting more laughs than provided, because there's a tag shortly into the end credits that takes its place in the series' tradition of chaotic wake-up scenes and quickly serves up a dose of the craziness some might miss from this more mature and exciting episode that ends the trilogy on a high note.

My fellow critics seemed to be harboring resentment for this prosperous franchise, as they inconceivably drubbed this threequeel more harshly than its wildly uncreative predecessor. That Part III drew some of the worst reviews of the summer took me by surprise and though you'd think this franchise would be critic-proof, the thrashing seems to have factored into the public's general disinterest and dislike of the film. If sequels often reflect the sentiment towards an immediate predecessor, then Part III's underperformance indicates Part II's approach was a grave mistake. The Hangover Part III grossed $112.2 million domestically and an additional $238.8 M overseas, great numbers for most R-rated comedies, but a significant drop from the past outings and below expectations for a $100 M production.

Rather than waiting until the height of holiday shopping season as they did for the previous two, Warner releases The Hangover Part III today in a Blu-ray combo pack and a Two-Disc Special Edition DVD, while the theatrical engagement, which ceased box office tracking in mid-August, remains somewhat fresh in mind.

Watch a clip from The Hangover Part III

The Hangover Part III: Blu-ray + DVD + Digital HD UltraViolet Combo Pack cover art -- click to buy from Amazon.com Blu-ray & DVD Details

2.40:1 Widescreen (DVD Anamorphic)
Blu-ray: 5.1 DTS-HD MA (English), Dolby Digital 5.1 (French, Spanish)
DVD: Dolby Digital 5.1 (English, French, Spanish)
Subtitles: English for Hearing Impaired, French, Spanish
Not Closed Captioned; Extras Subtitled
Release Date: October 8, 2013
Suggested Retail Price: $35.99
Two single-sided, dual-layered discs (BD-50 & DVD-9)
Blue Eco-Friendly Keepcase in Embossed Cardboard Slipcover
Also available as Two-Disc Special Edition DVD ($28.98 SRP) and on Instant Video
Soon available in Trilogy Blu-ray Box Set ($57.98 SRP)

VIDEO and AUDIO

The Hangover Part III extends its franchise's atypical taste for cinematic flair, looking more like a dark crime thriller than a comedy (which in some ways, it is). The Blu-ray's 2.40:1 presentation is great, maintaining the intended filmic look with light grain, muted colors, and the sharpness, clarity and detail you expect of a 2013 movie in 1080p.

Likewise, the 5.1 DTS-HD master audio soundtrack is quite dynamic, its booming bass enough to rattle your windows on more than one occasion. While avoiding extreme peaks and valleys, the mix stays active and serves the material well.

Rachael Harris dons a beard and a baby in her secret audition for the role of Alan Garner in "Replacing Zach." Zach Galifianakis in His Own Words is certainly a serious interview.

BONUS FEATURES, MENUS, PACKAGING and DESIGN

All of the bonus features are exclusive to the Blu-ray here (where they're presented in HD) but available on the second disc of the two-disc DVD edition sold separately.
They begin with four "behind the scenes" shorts.

"Replacing Zach: The Secret Auditions" (6:09) is a little mockumentary that sees past Hangover cast members, current "Saturday Night Live" ones, and random strangers coming in to read for the supposedly unrecastable part of Alan. It's a funny idea, but it kind of needed some bigger names than these to pull it off.

Tongue is removed from cheek in "The Wolfpack's Wildest Stunts" (5:10), which looks at the film's action demands with B-roll and comments from cast and crew.

The sarcasm returns in "Zach Galifianakis in His Own Words" (2:32), which expectedly lets the furry funnyman loose for amusing tangents, autobiographical non sequiturs, and the like.

"Pushing the Limits" (3:36) discusses working with animals and children.

Inside Focus: The Real Chow goes to extreme lengths to convince us that Leslie Chow is real and Ken Jeong is not. The film's flashback to the heretofore unseen drug deal by "Black Doug" (Mike Epps) that sparked the franchise is one of the Blu-ray's three brief extended scenes.

"Inside Focus: The Real Chow" (5:24) poses as a newsmagazine exposé that discovers Leslie Chow is a real person and Ken Jeong is just a personality he invented. It's creative and different, though not so funny.

"Action Mash-Up" (1:09) extends a home video tradition for the series by stringing exciting moments for unclear reasons.

Three extended scenes (2:03) give us more of Alan's 2009 drug deal with Black Stu,

Chow deflecting advances in Mexico, and Alan trying to detect sarcasm from Stu to his cell phone rant.

Finally, we get a Galifianakis-heavy outtakes reel (7:51) that shares unused ad libs along with takes blown by laughter, goofs, and character breaks.

While I'm glad that Warner is once again giving DVD customers bonus features, a separate disc for them seems quite unnecessary in this case, given this combo pack's DVD -- presumably Disc 1 -- is way under capacity and that its second platter only holds 34 minutes of bonus features.

The Blu-ray opens with an UltraViolet promo and a trailer for We're the Millers. The DVD opens with those too, but it adds an anti-smoking Truth spot and trailers for Man of Steel, the video game Batman: Arkham Origins, and Pacific Rim. Nary a Hangover trailer is found on either disc, sadly.

Each disc's static, silent main menu simply adapts a poster design. The Blu-ray doesn't support bookmarks, but does resume unfinished playback of the film.

Topped by a glossy slipcover reproducing the same artwork, the eco-friendly keepcase holds a single insert, which supplies directions and your unique code for the combo pack's final component: a digital HD UltraViolet stream via Flixster.

The Wolfpack (Bradley Cooper, Zach Galifianakis, Ed Helms) takes its final stroll, with their oft-absent fourth friend (Justin Bartha) in tow.

CLOSING THOUGHTS

The Hangover didn't really need a sequel, especially one recreating its every beat. With that unimaginative Bangkok journey out of its system, Part III surprisingly returns the series to form while taking things in a different direction. Some viewers will regret that laughs and outrageousness are in short supply here, but the movie works as an entertaining crime thriller that concludes this comic odyssey in an unexpectedly satisfying and somehow fitting way.

Warner's Blu-ray combo pack serves up a terrific feature presentation and a somewhat light but generally agreeable collection of bonus features. As one of the year's films least deserving of the bad wrap it got, I encourage those who wrote this franchise off to give this finale an open-minded look.

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Blu-ray Combo Pack / 2-Disc Special Edition DVD / Blu-ray Trilogy / Instant Video

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Related Reviews:
Directed by Todd Phillips: The Hangover • The Hangover Part II • Due Date • Road Trip
Zach Galifianakis: The Campaign • Dinner for Schmucks • Youth in Revolt • Puss in Boots
Bradley Cooper: Silver Linings Playbook • The Words • He's Just Not That Into You
Ed Helms: Cedar Rapids • Jeff, Who Lives at Home • Dr. Seuss' The Lorax | Melissa McCarthy: Identity Thief
Ken Jeong: Transformers: Dark of the Moon | John Goodman: The Big Lebowski • Argo • Flight • Arachnophobia
Justin Bartha: National Treasure | Heather Graham: ExTerminators • Scrubs: The Complete Fourth Season
New: This Is the End • Robot Chicken: Season 6 • The Neighbors: The Complete First Season • Stuck in Love

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Reviewed October 8, 2013.



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