.The Hangover Part III

TRICKSTER: What little life the ‘Hangover’ franchise has left is due to Ken Jeong’s Mr. Chow.

An intervention brings the three members of the Wolfpack together again in The Hangover Part III, with three times the enervation: “We want to tell you all about an awesome place called New Horizons … ” The intervened-upon one is Alan (Zack Galifianakis). During the gang’s drive to the drying-out center in Phoenix, Phil (Bradley Cooper), Stu (Ed Helms) and brother-in-law Doug (Justin Bartha) are kidnapped by a gangster named Marshall (an understandably weary John Goodman) who wants them to find his nemesis, Mr. Chow (Ken Jeong). The boys track this criminal from Tijuana to Las Vegas.

The actors are short with each other, as if they’d had enough of each other’s company. Not that the only purpose of women in guys’ movies is to refresh the men (even if it sure seems that way), but there are no women to refresh them. Wait, there is a short, badly written reunion with Heather Graham (they need to find her because she used to be a prostitute), and Melissa McCarthy gives 10 good snarling minutes as a pawn shop cashier. In this grouchy movie, Helms gets a few moments. Battered and grimacing with anxiety and behind the wheel of a car, Helms shows the makings of a serious film noir patsy.

Jeong, however, is first, last and foremost in this movie. “He is madness,” Marshall declares. Jeong is a real-life physician turned comedian who has achieved the performance artist’s dream of using nudity as a weapon and the immigrants’ dream of using pidgin English to put the well-spoken in their place. His Chow is seen sailing in a parachute over the Vegas skyline screaming, “I love cocaine!” and posing as the John Woo cool killer in wraparounds and cowboy boots—a bit diminutive for the role. He is a satyr ordering “girls, boys and bath salts” in the penthouse of Caesars Palace.

To find Jeong’s like, you need to go back to Peter Lorre movies, when leading ladies and manly men alike were upstaged by a furtive, short Hungarian with bad teeth. Lorre wasn’t above Asian dialect—the Mr. Moto movies are not what they seem, and that Stanford-grad man of mystery was nobody’s houseboy. The Hangover series is spent, but the weird trickster Jeong has more to give us.

The Hangover Part III

R; 100 min.


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