The UnPopular Opinion: The Hangover Part III

Last Updated on August 2, 2021

THE UNPOPULAR OPINION is an ongoing column featuring different takes on films that either the writer HATED, but that the majority of film fans LOVED, or that the writer LOVED, but that most others LOATHED. We're hoping this column will promote constructive and geek fueled discussion. Enjoy!


One could argue that THE HANGOVER is one of the best mainstream comedies of the 2000s. I do not think that it is a big stretch to place Todd Phillips' buddy comedy in the top tier of funny movies over the last fifteen years. But, most people would immediately ignore the two follow-up films featuring The Wolfpack as forgettable, repetitive, and just plain bad. While I will agree that the second movie was pretty awful, THE HANGOVER PART III is one of the most underrated films in the last ten years.

As far as sequels go, THE HANGOVER PART III manages to do what PART II failed to accomplish and that is take the characters and put them in a totally different debacle with the end result to further develop the characters and give us something unique to watch. THE HANGOVER PART III is the most tonally different sequel I have seen since EVIL DEAD II. Somehow, Phillips manages to take Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms, and Zach Galifianakis and put them smack in the middle of an action movie. Amazingly, it works.

What worked in THE HANGOVER was the shock value of seeing this group come face to face with a tiger, a baby, and a missing friend. Their journey was dark and funny and took a lot of twists and turns, but at it's core it was a buddy movie crossed with a mystery formula. The sequel repeated everything from the first movie but in a different geographical setting. THE HANGOVER PART III manages to take the plot elements involving Leslie Chang (Ken Jeong) and his role in the first movie and pushing the narrative forward.

As much as Bradley Cooper led the first movie, it was the breakout performance from Zach Galifianakis that really helped make the movie a hit. Ed Helms was great as well, but Galifianakis' over the top performance as Alan ushered in the concept of the Wolfpack into our modern lexicon. Here, Todd Phillips pushes Alan to the front of the movie. This takes some of the pressure off of Cooper and Helms and allows them to be funny in their comfort zone rather than zany and out of control like they were in PART II. Even Ken Jeong's manic character feels more organic in this story than he ever did in the first sequel.

What makes THE HANGOVER PART III work is the fact that everyone involved doesn't seem to care that the viewer may feel confused or put off by the fact that this movie is not like the previous two films. THE HANGOVER PART III was marketed as the end to the trilogy; a capping entry to the sage of these characters. I assumed when I first watched it that it was going to be a third spin around but I found that this is a dark movie, much more so than either of the previous movies. The aura of death permeates this film from the multiple casualties, both human and giraffe. THE HANGOVER PART III is the most mature of the films and that comes from the structure of the plot.

Completely disregarding the blackout device of the first two movies, THE HANGOVER PART III instead presents us with a villain in John Goodman's Marshall who is both frightening and deadly serious. Yes, there is some humor when Goodman is on screen, but he is more of an imposing foe that Leslie Chow ever was. You truly question whether these characters will make it out alive by the end of this film and that makes it feel more immediate and more thrilling. These may not be the characteristics of a comedy but it definitely ups the ante in a way that PART II never came close to doing. THE HANGOVER PART III is a more extreme film that either of the others in the trilogy but it is not due to shock value or plot twists that the others became dependant upon. This is not a movie for the weak of stomach but it is the best made movie of the three films.

I never thought I would find myself writing an entry in this column about a third film in a franchise like THE HANGOVER being potentially better than the original. THE HANGOVER took a simple plot device and threw twists and turns and resulted in a well rounded adult comedy. THE HANGOVER PART III is a proper sequel to that movie that takes every element of the original and turns it on it's ear. I thoroughly enjoyed this movie and am still shocked that it performed so poorly at the box office. Where PART II exceeded expectations financially, THE HANGOVER PART III was a drastic disappointment. But, from a cinematic standpoint, this is one of the best contemporary action comedies I have seen,

Oh, and if you have any suggestions for The UnPopular Opinion I’m always happy to hear them. You can send along an email to [email protected], spell it out below, slap it up on my wall in Movie Fan Central, or send me a private message via Movie Fan Central. Provide me with as many movie suggestions as you like, with any reasoning you'd care to share, and if I agree then you may one day see it featured in this very column!


About the Author

5932 Articles Published

Alex Maidy has been a editor, columnist, and critic since 2012. A Rotten Tomatoes-approved critic and a member of Chicago Indie Critics, Alex has been's primary TV critic and ran columns including Top Ten and The UnPopular Opinion. When not riling up fans with his hot takes, Alex is an avid reader and aspiring novelist.