Friday Flicks: Your Number Is Up. The Epic Choice Is The Hangover Part III or Fast & Furious 6

TIME breaks down which films to see and which to avoid this weekend.

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A view of atmosphere at the premiere of Warner Bros. Pictures' "Hangover Part III" at Westwood Village Theater on May 20, 2013 in Westwood, California.

The Hangover Part III

Tagline: The end.

We’ve been led to believe that The Hangover Part III is the third and final film in director Todd Phillips’ highly successful comedy franchise, which began in 2009. A case could arguably be made that there were far fewer laughs in the 2011 sequel, so what can Phillips – and his returning cast of Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms and Zach Galifianakis, among others – do to get us interested in the (mis)adventures of the Wolf Pack? This time around, there’s no wedding, bachelor party or even hangover to speak of so, er, good luck with selling the movie.

Does this mean that we’re in store for a radical, avant-garde comedy? Not exactly. Galifianakis’ Alan is apparently in need of treatment, but as his buddies attempt to help him out, they’re confronted by characters from their past, notably Ken Jeong’s Mr. Chow.

Some reviewers are even questioning whether The Hangover Part III can legitimately be labeled a funny film. “Phillips hasn’t really made a comedy here,” begins Empire. “That��s not because he’s written jokes that don’t land; it’s that a lot of the movie isn’t played for laughs. It’s less a buddy comedy than a convoluted heist movie with a surreal bent.” The British magazine’s verdict is a middling two-star review: “Tonally a complete departure from the rest of the series, which is at once laudably brave and disappointingly unfunny.” Variety is similarly unenthused: “Ditching the hangovers, the backward structure, the fleshed-out characters and any sense of debauchery or fun, this installment instead just thrusts its long-suffering protagonists into a rote chase narrative, periodically pausing to trot out fan favorites for a curtain call.” But if Phillips cares about the critics, he’ll be able to take some comfort from Urban Cinefile, though a line such as, “Neither as good as it wants to be or as bad as I had feared,” could make Phillips laugh or possibly cry. Still, stellar box office returns might make up for the poor reviews.

MORE: Zach Galifianakis Brings Woman He Saved from Homelessness as Date to Hangover Premiere

Fast & Furious 6

Tagline: All Roads Lead to This

You don’t exactly need to be Einstein to work out that there have twice as many Fast & Furious movies as there have been Hangovers. And in director Justin Lin, the franchise has a familiar face behind the camera, as he has helmed the previous three installments. TIME’s Richard Corliss hailed the most recent, 2011s Fast Five, as the “best in the series” so at least one critic was presumably keen to see where Lin was going to take the franchise next.

Lin has managed to assemble the likes of Vin Diesel, Paul Walker, Dwayne Johnson, Michelle Rodriguez, and Gina Carano in a lavish, visually impressive action romp around various locations. Johnson plays special agent Luke Hobbs, who recruits Diesel (Dominic Toretto) and his crew, which includes Walker (Brian O’Conner) to take down a gang led by ex-SAS officer Owen Shaw (Luke Evans). Expect the chase scenes to be unlike anything you’ve ever witnessed on celluloid. Probably.

TIME’s Corliss has maintained his enthusiasm for the endeavour, even going so far as stating that, “If you’re like me, you’ll be wanting F&F 7 (which will be directed by Saw auteur James Wan) to premiere not on July 11, 2014, but right now, this second.” Corliss isn’t the only reputable critic to be enjoying the heck out of the movie. “The latest installment is a movie much more entertaining than the churlish might expect for one with “fast” or “furious” or “six” in the title,” notes the Village Voice. And the Guardian admits “this film’s got a fair bit in the tank; it’s silly but enjoyable.” But sister publication, the Observer, can’t help but snipe that “the endless chases, stunts and fights are as spectacular and preposterous as the occasional verbal exchanges are sentimental and childish.”

READ: Why Fast Five was on TIME’s 2011 list of Best Movies


Tagline: Discover a world from the creators of Ice Age.

Based on the children’s book The Leaf Men And The Brave Good Bugs, by William Joyce (who takes one of five writer credits in this adaptation), Epic shines a light on a fantastical world.

The story is that well-told tale about the ongoing battle between the forces of good and evil. A teenage girl, Mary Katherine (Amanda Seyfried, whose character prefers to be known as MK), finds herself at the heart of this secret universe, and teams up with a whole range of figures, to try and save their world … and, you guessed it, ours.

The early word on Epic is quite encouraging. “Good solid family entertainment,” states Empire, concluding that “this has enough wit and charm to entertain both big and little people.” Despite apparently walking “a woefully-worn, save-the-planet path,” NECN does concede that “it manages to feel fresh, even when drawing inspiration directly from Alice in Wonderland, Avatar and The Lord of the Rings.” And Digital Spy concludes that Epic may lack the replay value of a many of its animation peers, but nevertheless it’s a visually striking and likeable time-passer.

LIST: Richard Corliss Previews the Movies of Summer 2013

NewsFeed’s Flicks Pick: If it’s good enough for Richard Corliss, it’s good enough for us. Fast & Furious 6 is the choice of the week.

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