Sunday Tasmanian - Tassie Living - - MOVIES -

Stars: Zach Gal­ifi anakis, Ken Jeong, Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms, Justin Bartha

THE mega- pop­u­lar com­edy fran­chise is per­ma­nently hun­gover. Drunk on the block­buster suc­cess of the fi rst in­stal­ment in 2009, the team re­con­vened for Part II in Thai­land a few years later.

There was just one prob­lem. Some­one for­got to pack the truly funny stuff.

Now comes a re­puted tril­ogy- clos­ing ef­fort that sees the cel­e­brated Wolf­pack back on home turf.

The fi lm as­sem­bles a mod­est col­lec­tion of guf­faw- out- loud mo­ments.

How­ever, once again, the high stan­dard of low­brow laughs achieved by the fi rst just can­not be matched.

More than ever be­fore, this in­stal­ment is pow­ered pri­mar­ily by the fran­chise’s two break­out char­ac­ters, the bearded weirdo Alan ( Zach Gal­ifi anakis) and the mer­cu­rial gang­ster Mr Chow ( Ken Jeong).

As the story be­gins, Alan is off his meds and on his way to a psych fa­cil­ity, af­ter an

THE RE­LUC­TANT FUN­DA­MEN­TAL­IST in­ter­ven­tion con­ducted by fel­low Wolf­pack­ers Phil ( Bradley Cooper) and Stu ( Ed Helms).

How­ever, the group never make it to their in­tended des­ti­na­tion, and soon fi nd them­selves in Mex­ico where big trou­ble awaits.

Of course, Mr Chow is the cause of much of the tur­moil, es­cap­ing from a prison in Bangkok and then mak­ing off with the gold re­serves of a pow­er­ful crime lord.

So un­less Alan, Stu and Phil lo­cate Chow and re­trieve the miss­ing gold, that other guy they al­ways hang around with ( Doug, played by Justin Bartha) will be ex­e­cuted.

The wonky plot should be warn­ing enough that the fran­chise’s A- game is long gone.

Some­what pre­dictably, all sto­ry­telling roads nav­i­gated by are des­tined to in­ter­sect once more in Las Vegas.

Un­for­tu­nately, there will be no Mike Tyson, wild tiger on the loose or baby in dan­ger to save pro­ceed­ings from re­treat­ing deep in­side the aver­age zone.

For un­known rea­sons, the fi lm feels the need to oc­ca­sion­ally down tools and play the nice- to- see- you- again card to need­less ef­fect.

Do we re­ally have to know how Heather Gra­ham’s re­tired- strip­per char­ac­ter is do­ing th­ese days? Or her kid?

Even the sup­pos­edly out­ra­geous and provoca­tive scenes feel all too com­fort­able ( or is that lazy?) in their de­sire to of­fend.

Any­one who ex­pected the se­ries to end with a bang will be dis­ap­pointed by the wispy whim­per com­ing their way.

Only those happy enough to set­tle for more of the same will stag­ger away vaguely sat­isfi ed.

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