MOTW: Part III Means a New Direction for "The Hangover"

Photo Credit: Warner Bros.
May 22nd, 2013

MOTW: Part III Means a New Direction for "The Hangover"

For fans of the mayhem-fueled comedy of the "Hangover" series, May 24 marks an important date. After months of teasers, chicken fights, and curiously stormy posters, the series is set to finally draw to a close with a Friday premiere. However, while shots of Leslie Chow parachuting through Paris promise us plenty of madness, "The Hangover Part III" is planned to make a sharp departure from the familiar. For one thing, there's no wedding, and the movie opens with a premise that couldn't be more sober: a funeral for Alan's father.

"This is Alan's story," says writer-director Todd Phillips. "It's kind of a movie about a crisis. Alan, his own personal crisis." While the three-way character dynamics of Bradley Cooper, Zack Galifianakis, and Ed Helms has carried the series to its current success, the new and more intimate focus of the upcoming film looks like it will bring the viewer closer to the characters than ever. In an interview with Bradley Cooper from The Collider, Bradley says the movie's "about the characters and their relationship, which carries through more than the hook of a lost night ... It's a character study in a sort of way."

This is definitely a different approach from the last two movies, which revolved around single nights of forgotten debauchery and the adventures it took to sort them out. The similar beats of the last films, including the weddings and missing persons, have also been completely discarded in favor of something new. The tone, for one thing, is set get a lot darker. "There is death in this movie," says cowriter Craig Mazin. "Not everybody lives." This is echoed by Todd Philip's assertions that the tone of the movie is designed to be a little more "real," both in the high stakes of the character's actions and in the exploration of Alan and his personal crisis. Mazin says, "Alan is very sick. We just want to be real about that."

Even the style of the action seems to be taking a different turn. Where the previous movies turned to their surroundings for their material, scouring Vegas and Thailand for thrills, "The Hangover Part III" isn't, in the words of Philips, a "destination movie." Jumping from Vegas, Tijuana, to the Mojave, and apparently to Paris, the new movie looks like it has a fair share of globetrotting in it. This might have something to do with the return of Leslie Chow as a major international criminal and with the appearance of John Goodman as a dangerous man. The trailers tell us Goodman charges the Wolf Pack to find Chow to help recover a stolen twenty-one million dollars, and it looks like this movie will feature an overarching antagonist in a way the past movies haven't. Mazin describes him as a "dark presence that's been lingering" ever since the first movie, and it's exciting to see the direction the crew will take with that.

It also looks as if the audience will be seeing a lot of loose ends tied up in the third installment. Heather Graham's appearance in the movie means the viewer should get some resolution between Ed Helm's Stu and his shotgun-wedding stripper wife, Jade. Mazin also says the missing Doug from the original film gets more involved in this one, albeit tragically so. Overall, the role of this installment as a finale definitely seems to be shaping its direction as a whole, and the idea of closure seems to be a powerful motivator for the film's direction.

Fortunately, being filmed against a backdrop of so much drama doesn't mean the film will be throwing away its comedic roots. Ed Helms, the actor behind straight-man Stu, promises that despite the seriousness explored in the different characters, the movie will still going to have plenty of laughs to go around. If the trailers are any indication, his promise is going to be made good.

While viewers don't know exactly what the new movie will entail, it seems that the film will have plenty of destruction, vehicular mayhem, and cocaine-fueled Leslie Chow to go around. "The Hangover Part III" might be a very stylistically different animal from its predecessors, but it looks like it will be a glorious romp, and maybe even much more. The trilogy finale's premiere on May 24 is going to reveal how the Wolf Pack's adventures come to their long-awaited close.