You didn't really expect The Hangover: Part III to get good reviews, did you? The "epic conclusion to the trilogy of mayhem and bad decisions" features cruelty to animals (a decapitated giraffe makes frequent appearances in several trailers), and it focuses heavily on Ken Jeong and Zach Galifianakis at their most bizarre, and it apparently just isn't that funny, with plot driven by action instead of, you know, jokes. Heading into the third Hangover's Memorial Day weekend release, the proposition of reviewing such a ridiculous film set off a competition of sorts between critics who have each tried their hardest to criticize the movie in the most excoriating way possible. Let's award some prizes.
Best Use of Simile: Stephen Farber in The Hollywood Reporter
"This picture is like a brightly colored balloon with all the comic air seeping out."
Best Contextualization: Andrew Barker in Variety
"Five minutes into 'The Hangover Part III,' a giraffe is gruesomely decapitated by a freeway overpass. While this unfortunate event is ultimately tangential to the film’s plot, it nonetheless marks its best shot at leaving a lasting legacy, with the phrase 'beheading the giraffe' perhaps someday supplanting 'jumping the shark' as the cliche of choice to mark a franchise's official descent into pitiable pointlessness."
Most Consciously Metaphorical: Betsy Sharkey in the Los Angeles Times
"Come to think of it, Chow is actually an apt metaphor for the movie — indescribably irritating and only in it for the money."
Most Genuinely Disappointed: Bilge Ebiri at New York
"It truly is surprising how barren the movie is of humor."
Most in Need of Substances: Michael O'Sullivan in The Washington Post
"Coupled with its logic headaches, it left me feeling like I needed an Alka-Seltzer Plus. Anything to add a little fizzy relief to these flat and unfunny proceedings."
Most Socially Conscious: Chris Packham in the Village Voice
"By contrast, the Hangover franchise positions spoiled douchebags as admirable and cool, visually aggrandized with slow-motion hero walks like Gemini astronauts in The Right Stuff. Phillips is zero percent interested in exploring the narcissism of his characters, as long as they arrive back exactly at the point of departure."
Most Cruel (to Children): Kyle Smith in the New York Post
"I beg of you, don’t ask me to choose between 'Hangover' II and III. That would be like asking a mother to choose between her children, assuming she hated her children, never wanted to see them again and wished they’d never been born in the first place"
Most Predictive: Will Leitch at Deadspin
"By Part IV, we'd just see these actors sitting around a table, occasionally waving to the camera, checking their cellphones, stretching from time to time. That'd be an improvement, actually. That might be fun."
Most... Positive? Leah Rozen at The Wrap
"Years from now, doctoral candidates are likely to write entire extended theses on Alan Garner, the character so memorably and brilliantly played by Zach Galifianakis in the 'Hangover' series."