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The most common criticism leveled against "The Hangover Part II," and accurately in my opinion, was that the sequel basically just served as a remake of the original film in a new geographic setting.
To some degree, I felt like Todd Phillips, who hasn't really been in the franchise business until now, was making a joke about the essential nature of sequels. Any time you're following up a massive success, you have all sorts of expectations you're dealing with as the filmmakers. If you do something that's too close to the original, you get nailed for it. If you do something that's not like the original at all, you get nailed for it. It's a no-win situation creatively, and then if you do manage to pull it off, expectations get even more outrageous and difficult for the next one.
There's a new Internet-only trailer for "The Hangover Part III," and right away, it looks like they've made some steps forward with the characters, and it also feels like they're acknowledging that the second film was perhaps too much of the same. This time, instead of throwing another destination event that leads to a crazy and forgotten bachelor party, it looks like the film starts with Alan (Zach Galifianakis) at a low point, and after a disastrous funeral for his father, his friends step in to try and get him some help.
This time, when they hit the road, it's not for a weekend of planned debauchery. They're trying to deliver him to a treatment facility. And instead of all of them getting roofied so they forget the mayhem they're involved in, it looks like they are cornered by a new character played by John Goodman and forced to help him track down Chow (Ken Jeong), who stole $21 million from him.
The trailer shows footage from Tijuana and Las Vegas, and it feels like a very different structure based on the material in the trailer. I'm just happy to see that however they resolve this one, it feels like a stretch, like they've realized that audiences don't need to see the exact same film. They like the cast, and they like watching them deal with terrible things. Aside from that, it seems like you've got real freedom, and knowing that this is the final film in the trilogy, it looks like Todd Phillips and his writers and his cast have taken advantage of that freedom.
"The Hangover Part III" arrives in theaters May 24, 2013.