(director/writer: Todd Phillips; screenwriters: Craig Mazin/based on characters created by Jon Lucas and Scott Moore; cinematographer: Lawrence Sher; editors: Debra Neil-Fisher/Jeff Groth; music: Christophe Beck; cast: Bradley Cooper (Phil), Ed Helms (Stu), Zach Galifianakis (Alan), Justin Bartha (Doug), Ken Jeong (Leslie Chow), John Goodman (Marshall), Melissa McCarthy (Cassie), Jeffrey Tambor (Sid), Heather Graham (Jade), Mike Epps (Black Doug), Sasha Barrese (Tracy), Jamie Chung (Lauren); Runtime: 100; MPAA Rating: R; producer: Todd Phillips/Dan Goldberg; Warner Bros.; 2013)
The laughs are strained.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

Todd Phillips(“Old School”/”Starsky & Hutch”/”Due Date”) co-writes with Craig Mazin and directs his third crude comedy Hangover pic, and hopefully the last. The same old, same old story line is no better or worse than its two predecessors–though at least the first one seemed fresh. The low-brow adolescent humor brought on by the adults brings few laughs, and its sick humor is not for all tastes. The pic goes ape for perverse animal cruelty jokes, such as over a giraffe, carted in a trailer by a sports car convertible, that is beheaded on the freeway underpass. If you found that bit funny, then this is your kind of a pic.

The middle-aged Wolf-pack returns in this version and are ordered by violent drug kingpin Marshall (John Goodman) to bring him their psychopath criminal pal Chow (Ken Jeong), who just escaped from a Thailand jail, and also bring the 21 million dollars worth of gold bullion Chow stole from the thieves. That’s the loot Marshall’s gang stole from a Middle-Eastern sheik. The Wolf-pack consists of charmer teacher Phil (Bradley Cooper), nerdy dentist Stu (Ed Helms), misfit childish 42-year-old man-child Alan (Zach Galifianakis) and Alan’s straight-arrow brother-in-law Doug (Justin Bartha). Marshall holds Doug hostage and threatens to kill him if the boys don’t carry out his orders. After locating Chow in Tijuana and then tricked into helping Chow rob Marshall’s Mexican mansion of the other half of the stolen gold bullion, the action shifts to Las Vegas and the cornered Chow parachutes from his penthouse room in Caesar’s Palace over the Las Vegas Strip until the climactic scene has the antagonistic sicko criminals confront each other in the L.V. desert.

The laughs are strained. Ken Jeong gets an expanded starring role, but giving him more screen time was a mistake. His relentless one-joke whiny sociopath comedy routine became tiresome and unfunny. The lame story never jelled and seemed clumsily presented. But, I think, if you liked the first two episodes you’ll probably like the third.