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The boys are back in town as The Hangover III brings trilogy to a close

by Mark Burger

The Hangover Part III , is being touted as the final chapter in what has become a very profitable comedy franchise — and not a moment too soon. This is easily the least of the Hangovers, although it is hardly without its attributes, particularly in the comfortable chemistry among its regular cast members.

Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms, Zach Galifianakis and Justin Bartha again encore as the eponymous “Wolfpack.” Having survived their two previous bachelor-party excursions intact — more or less — they are confronted by grouchy gangster John Goodman, who demands that they track down their old “pal,” Mr. Chow (Greensboro’s own Ken Jeong), who owes him money.

So begins yet another misadventure, one that takes the boys to Mexico and eventually back to Las Vegas, the site of their first blowout bash.

The storyline, courtesy Craig Mazin and returning director Todd Phillips, is much more contrived this time out and is simply a flimsy excuse to round up the regulars. Also returning to the fold, some only briefly, are Heather Graham, Jeffrey Tambor and Mike Epps. Jeong is so unhinged in this go-’round that he throws the narrative off balance — which, admittedly, doesn’t take much.

Goodman growls incessantly as the resident heavy, while Melissa McCarthy gives Galifianakis some competition in this abrasiveness department. (It’s no surprise that they connect romantically.)

Cooper is extremely laid back here, ceding the limelight to Galifianakis and Helms. Helms’ background reactions are funnier than ever, particularly in a film where what’s in the foreground isn’t as funny as before. He’s a terrific straight man, and he again endures one last humiliation at the fade-out. That’s to be expected, but it’s still pretty funny.

Poor Bartha is once again relegated to the sidelines — he’s held hostage this time around — but he’s a good sport about such things.

As sequels go, The Hangover Part III is about par for the course. It’s hardly inspired, and it’s not up to the level of its predecessors, but is a friendly and reasonably fond farewell. Now, one supposes, it’s time to sober up.

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