If you expect the outrageousness and the hilariousness of the first and even the second Hangover in The Hangover 3, then you maybe be disappointed. The last installment of this phenomenally successful comedic franchise is not only tame, it shifts into the dark side of entertainment. There is not even a hangover.
Director and co-writer Todd Philips, who also directed The Hangover Parts 1 and 2, concedes, when I meet him and The Hangover cast at the Caesars Palace Hotel in Las Vegas. “I think directors tend to be dark people in any genre,” he says. “I think as you get the freedom and you get to do another one of Part II, Part III, you sort of get to get away with a little more and a lot of guys are inclined to go a little bit darker.”
On their way taking Alan (Zach Galifianakis) to a rehab centre, the wolfpack -Phil (Bradley Cooper), Stu (Ed Helms) and Doug (Justin Bartha)- are attacked by a menacing mobster, Marshall (John Goodman), who demands the return of his gold that has been stolen from him by their acquaintance, Asian gangster Mr. Chow (Ken Jeong). Doug is taken hostage by Marshall, while the rest of the pack race to find Mr. Chow and retrieve the gold in order to save their friend’s life. Their quest leads them to a mansion in Mexico, a jail in Tijuana and eventually back to Las Vegas, where the adventure continues and Alan meets his soulmate (Melissa McCarthy).
The synopsis says it all; this is a heist movie that keeps getting darker as it gallops ahead. “I certainly think it’s still a comedy,” Phillips insists, then he pauses to reflect. “But you’re right it’s darker and it’s more twisted, and there are more fucked up things that happened that have real stakes in them that for me as a director it’s just a fun way to take it.”
Comedian Galifianakis is unsure of the the tone of the movie. “I am not sure it’s necessarily darker,” he says, tapping on his chin. “But it’s more dramatic.”
Galifianakis delivers the brightest moments of comedy in the movie, inhabiting the central character Alan, whose reckless and heedless behaviour invariably plunges his friends into perilous troublel. Yet, though shocking, none of his actions come across as contrived or forced, and Galifianakis makes it look natural and infuses it with humanity, turning Alan’s vulgar madness into convivial sweetness. In spite of repetitive misdeeds, the audience and his friends continue to forgive and love him, which the actor attributes to the emotional element that he imbues in his comedy.
“If you show the sides of somebody like it is, it helps the comedy because it seems more real,” he says. “Alan is not doing it with a tongue in cheek, he’s doing it because that’s just the way he is. The thing about him is that you need him to be sweet because without that you have a different type of person. He is not likeable so it’s a trick.”
Unlike Philips, the 43-year-old actor feels he actually was darker when he was younger. “He’s got it wrong,” he laughs. “You’re supposed to be mature
and enlightened when you’re older.”
But like many other comedians who reach a certain age, Galifianakis admits that he is probably too old to be doing this kind of movies that target mainly “teenagers,” and he will be seeking roles that are more dramatic in tone. “Naturally for me, just doing jokes is kind of easy, but you hope to be able to change it up a little bit, so I’m hoping to do some talkies,” he smiles, nodding his head.
Having worked with Todd on the Hangover movies and Due Date (2010), Galifianakis also predicts that the comedic director will probably be shifting into drama. “I hope he does because I love to see that. Comedy is harder because you have to add that layer of the funny thing. Dramatic stuff to me seems simple.”
In The Hangover Part 3 the layer of the funny thing was evidently missing. Has the 43-year-old director, who made box-office hit comedies such as Starsky & Hutch (2004), Road Trip (2000) and Old School (2003), lost his comedic touch? Well, Comedians, such as Woody Allen and Jim Carrey, often express their desire to do serious drama, but instead their comedy, perhaps subconsciously, shifts from the superficial to the substantial, which is a natural process of growing up. The good news is that The Hangover is decidedly over.