Ken Jeong is not funny.
One of his first major entertainment appearances before his breakout role in Knocked Up was in an early episode of The Office where Michael went to his improv class. The whole joke is that the very unfunny Michael Scott hijacks every exercise by introducing a gun each time and sometimes even "shooting" Jeong and the rest of his classmates.
But that's what Jeong is now. Just a loud guy who brings a gun into every scene -- the "gun" being his annoying, stereotypical Asian accent and grating personality.
Yeah, I laughed just like everyone else when his naked body bounced out of the trunk in the first Hangover, though it was more out of surprise than amusement.
Now that Jeong's star has risen and his role in the Hangover series has expanded, he's come to represent the law of diminishing returns better than any other actor. Reel him in a bit and limit his role -- he's fine (i.e. Role Models). But when a movie like The Hangover, Part 3 starts out with Ken Jeong crawling through a prison sewage pipe like Andy Dufresne, how excited can you really be?
The Hangover series pretty much ran its course after Part 2, a stale shot-for-shot remake of the first one, which wasn't that great in the first place. The third one follows the basic scene pattern of the previous films: the "Wolf Pack" sees something ridiculous happen, then Bradley Cooper and Ed Helms yell and swear about how ridiculous the last thing they saw was. This escalates until a disappointing climax and a credits scene that's funnier than anything else in the movie (it applies this time too).
The difference in Part 3 is that there is no titular hangover. Doug (Justin Bartha) just gets kidnapped by John Goodman for something that Jeong's character Leslie Chow did. But everything else hits the same beats. Cooper and Helms continue to be wasted by being written as straight men who have no sense of humor but who can shriek with the best of them.
Thankfully, Zach Galifianakis continues to be the series' comedic anchor as the childish, musing Alan. Not everything he says is funny. But he's pretty close. He's really the only reason to watch, although Melissa McCarthy makes an always-welcome appearance as his love interest. Hopefully with this series seeming to end as a trilogy, Galifianakis can go back to "Between Two Ferns," Cooper can make more Oscar films and Jeong... ugh, he's probably not going away anytime soon, is he?
Rated R for pervasive language including sexual references, some violence and drug content, and brief graphic nudity.
Follow Pete McQuaid on Twitter @sweetestpete.