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When you go to Vegas to talk about "The Hangover Part III," of course part of your trip has to be a sit-down conversation with The Wolfpack.
Already, I am getting hammered with letters and comments from people who seem genuinely angry with me over my review for the film, and one guy suggested that I go easy on films where I interview the talent.
Let me explain once again the way this works. When I sit down with people to discuss their movie, that is their opportunity to tell me what movie they think they've made. When I write the review, that's my opportunity to explain what movie I think they've made. Sometimes those things line up, sometimes they don't, but one does not affect the other.
In this case, I had a couple of days after seeing it to think about my reaction, and while I'm not sure I'd describe the film as "hilarious," I am sure I'd describe it as "fascinating." This was never meant to be a trilogy. When Jon Lucas and Scott Moore sold their script for the first film, I'm sure they weren't already imagining the way the third film would play, and even when the first film came out, I doubt anyone was immediately saying, "Yes, this demands to be a trilogy."
Sometimes you see films that are very obviously designed to be part of a larger narrative, and in those cases, it's interesting to see how they plant seeds early on and then revisit them later as the series progresses. Sometimes you see a film where massive financial success motivates everyone to try to figure out ways to prolong the story, and that's very much the case with "The Hangover Part III." When your trilogy hinges on the bad behavior of a character who is very much designed to be a nightmare, an annoying weirdo who doesn't care at all about the consequences of his actions, you're not exactly setting yourself up to be all about the audience sympathy. The decision in this movie to try to suddenly heal Alan (Zach Galifianakis), at least enough for him to be able to function as an adult without being institutionalized, suddenly makes Alan the key figure in the trilogy. Before this, I would have argued that Stu was the one who was truly the center of everything, with Alan as a force of nature that Stu has to deal with, and I can imagine a version of this movie with those two pitted against each other for survival, with Stu as the protagonist.
That's not the film that Craig Mazin and Todd Phillips wrote, though, and I like the way they had to reverse engineer an antagonist here who is drawn from a throwaway line at the end of the first film. I think they made some very strange choices, and I would much rather see a film with this sort of weird ambition than another retelling of the first film.
Then again, so far this summer I'm finding myself standing alone on many things, and part of that is because I don't really have any conversations before I weigh in. I have no idea what consensus is, and that means I can't tailor my reactions to make sure my reactions are in line with anyone else's. All I can tell you is that if you liked the first film and you didn't care for the second, you may find this an intriguing way to redeem these characters to some small degree.
At least until the closing credits, anyway.
See what you think of what Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms, and Zach Galifianakis had to say about their return to the roles, the end of the series, and the fates of these characters, and then check out the film when it opens everywhere this Friday.