Bonus Hangover!

Posted on December 18, 2013

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Earlier, I wrote about The Hangover Part III. I got so worked up, I wrote this bonus post.

Todd Phillips

Todd Phillips, writer/director/producer, for these three movies wins the Hollywood game. He gets movies made, and that is a very big deal.

You can count box office numbers all you want, but as long as you can get a movie made, you are a winner.

Yes, I know that puts Mr. Phillips in the same success category as Ed Wood and Uwe Boll, but I value being able to carry out a plan, and these guys can.

Anybody can have an idea. Some people turn those ideas into publishable stories. Only a fraction of those people actually get published. The number who can do it over and over again is vanishingly small.

So a little respect for those who get the job done, from me.

The Deuce

When I wrote about The Hangover Part II for Forces of Geek, I proposed an alternate story that would never get made. In my alternate story, Bradley Cooper spends a lot of time offscreen. Clearly, he is way too bankable an actor for any studio to greenlight that script. Let me propose another alternative, using the existing script as a jump-off point.

Everything stays pretty much the same except we need to have some additional dialogue before the party on the beach. This would acknowledge Alan’s role in Las Vegas, and would focus on the precautions the guys are taking against Alan drugging them. I’d like to see a direct confrontation with Alan over the issue.

When they wake up in Bangkok, Phil and Stu immediately confront Alan. Alan laughs and says he lied about not drugging them. They get into it immediately with Alan over lying to them, and how that’s not how you treat friends. Alan explains his jealousy of Teddy. Phil and Stu immediately start looking for Teddy, and find Mr. Chow in the ice bin (as they do in the existing movie). Then they put two and two together, and realize that with the power being out, Teddy might be trapped in an elevator AND THEY RESCUE HIM.

Now we’ve established that they’re not morons. They go to call Doug, and realize that no one has a cell phone. They’ve been robbed. Alan has a cell phone, but he insists it’s not his. When Phil uses it to call Doug, Alan throws a fit about how rude it is to use up a stranger’s minutes.  Unbeknownst to them, the phone they have belongs to Chow. While they’re waiting for a plane (or boat, or whatever), Kingsley (Paul Giamatti) shows up. He’s with Interpol/DEA/whatever, and he’s sure they’re mixed up with Chow. He knows they were in Vegas with Chow, and they have Chow’s phone. That’s how he found them. He wants Chow.

Stu immediately realizes that Chow must have their phones, so they give Kingsley the numbers. Kingsley has limited man-power, so he sends the guys after one of the phones while he and his people track the other two.  The clock is ticking because they want to catch Chow before he leaves Bangkok. The guys have to come up with transportation (comedy sequence), and get to the phone. We get to see the phones that Chow has already dumped, leading the government agents to a strip club where there are snapshots of Stu making out with one of the ladymen while Chow laughs and claps, and Kingsley winds up busting in to a tattoo parlor, where there’s a snapshot of Stu getting his facial tattoo from Chow. Reaction shots to Stu’s pictures for laughs, of course.

Phil, Stu, Alan, and Teddy have to break in to a Buddhist monastery in pursuit of Chow. The monks do not make them welcome (comedy sequence), but they finally get to Chow. He tells this story about how he’s giving up the life of an international criminal to become a monk. The guys have a big argument about whether to call Kingsley or to make a run for it. Teddy can’t risk his scholarship. Stu can’t risk his medical license. Phil likes a good time, and apparently they had one with Chow. He’s ready to forgive and forget. Alan thinks bald Chow in monk’s robes is hilarious, so he definitely doesn’t want to call the cops.

Kingsley busts in. The monkey freaks out and runs. Alan chases the monkey.  Phil, Stu, and Teddy have to chase him through the monastery. Chow pulls a couple of assault rifles out from his robes, because he’s been lying the whole time, and tries to blast his way to freedom – in goofy, over-the-top, crazy Chow style. On a high spire above the monastery, Alan rescues the monkey but then is too scared to climb down. Teddy does something brave to help Alan, and they reconcile. Doug shows up in a helicopter to rescue his friends. We see Chow being led away in handcuffs. Kingsley gives the guys a big smile and a thumbs-up.

Then we can have the wedding, the Mike Tyson cameo, and the review of the camera pictures during the credits.

That movie would have been a continuation of the first one, a true sequel. It would have shown the characters growing and learning.

Third Time Pays for All

So what do you do for an encore?

Well, start by establishing that Alan is really out of control. The giraffe thing is part of it, sure, but we need to see more. Remember, we’ve never seen him completely off his meds. Maybe he’s a petulant, angry, man-child without them. We don’t need a whole act devoted to this, but we need 5-10 minutes of it. Maybe we see the Wolfpack go bowling together, and have to restrain Alan from throwing a bowling ball at a kid. Maybe he wrecks another of his dad’s cars. We need to see his impact on his family. Maybe we get multiple scenes of Sid writing checks, until he has his fatal heart attack.

Then Alan comes to the funeral late and drunk, and the Wolfpack bundles him off home. Alan wakes up in his bedroom and wanders into the wake in his underwear, and gets angry when his mother tries to steer him back to his room to dress. Again, the Wolfpack has to restrain him.

Once Alan is handled and the wives are consoling Linda, the Wolfpack puts its heads together. Doug brings up an idea that his wife, Alan’s sister, had about sending Alan someplace to dry out. We then go to the intervention scene.

Before they set out for the clinic, the Wolfpack makes Alan take his meds. No matter what sleight of hand he tries or how he tries to hide the meds under his tongue, the guys catch it. He finally takes the pills. On the way to the clinic, while Alan is not-very-subtly trying to make himself puke the pills back up, they get ambushed…by Kingsley. Kingsley lets them know that Chow broke out of jail, and may come after them for revenge. Kingsley is going to use them for bait. Doug protests, Phil gets mad, and Stu has a crying fit. Alan is just confused.

When they go back to the minivan, Phil asks Doug to drive. Then Phil gets in the back with Alan and they have a brief “Alan, give me your phone”/”No” exchange. Stu starts going, “Oh, my God, you’ve been talking to Chow! You’ve been talking to Chow! Yes you have!” Again, this three-way exchange is brief, and can escalate to an in-car wrestling match if necessary. Eventually Doug enforces some peace, and as Alan’s brother (in law), demands that Alan give Phil the phone. He does, and Phil finds the email exchanges between Alan and Chow. They are silly and childish, just as in the existing movie.

Phil, Stu, and Doug try to convince Alan that Chow is using him. Alan (naively) thinks Chow is a nice guy.

Together, Phil, Stu, and Doug decide that taking Alan to the health spa/detox clinic would make the four of them sitting ducks, so they high-tail it for Tijuana. They have a great time, and wake up in the morning without Alan. They still have all their body parts, no new tattoos, nobody’s head is shaved, no one is locked on a roof or in an elevator, but Alan is gone. And so is his cell phone.

They immediately assume he used the phone to hook up with Chow. Doug reveals that the family lo-jacked Alan’s phone long ago, and together the three of them chase Alan through Tijuana, to find him bombed out of his mind at a cock fight…with Lesley Chow. Chow claims to have no hard feelings about Thailand. He’s an international criminal. He’s in and out of jail all the time, but he would much rather be in an American jail than a Mexican one. He offers to cut the guys in on a deal. If they smuggle him to Las Vegas, Chow can recover a bunch of his money and use it to bribe Kingsley into keeping him in the US. Of course Kingsley is dirty, why else would he use the Wolfpack in Thailand, and again now? He’s obviously bent!

Alan sweetens the deal by promising to stay on his meds the whole time. Against their better judgment, the Wolfpack agrees. Of course, Chow is lying again. He’s just better at it than Alan is. Chow takes them to a pawn shop where he gets the Wolfpack to get some disgusting item out of hock. Chow hid a key in the disgusting item. While Alan is distracted by Cassie, who runs the pawn shop, he causes some disturbance (knocks some stuff over). While the guys try to fix things, Chow escapes.

The guys have no idea what to do now. They go to a hotel to rest and have a drink. Kingsley catches up with them and they tell him what’s going on. He’s furious with them because now Chow is in the United States and has a bunch of money. Doug tells him that a) he expected Chow to be in the US, otherwise he couldn’t have used the Wolfpack for bait; and b) using the Wolfpack for bait would be bad publicity if it got out, and a bad career move. The rest of the Wolfpack is surprised by how calm and confident Doug sounds. He doesn’t usually come on these adventures, so they’ve never seen him in action.

Kingsley leaves, and Alan is really grateful to Doug for sticking up for him. So grateful that he’s going to tell them where Chow is. He’s known for hours. Chow texted him when he checked in to some ultra-ritzy penthouse suite where he’s having a huge blow-out before he gets arrested or killed by other drug dealers. Alan was going to sneak out and party with Chow, but the Wolfpack have done nothing but try to protect him all along. Maybe the meds are kicking in or he’s drying out, but he gets that now and he wants to help. Plus, he can’t have Chow popping in and out of his life now that he has Cassie. Of course, the rest of the Wolfpack isn’t sure he really has Cassie, but if it motivates him…

So they cook up some wacky, Ocean’s 11 plan (it can’t be any crazier than rappelling down to a balcony from the roof using bed sheets, which is actually in the third movie) to lure Chow into the open for Kingsley. The plan half works, they have to improvise, and everything works out in the end.

Then we have a wedding where Alan drugs everyone except the Wolfpack, and hilarity ensues.

Conclusion

The point is NOT that I am smarter than Todd Phillips. As I said, I have respect for him. He wins at Hollywood, and I haven’t even gotten in the game.

The point is just that The Hangover could have been a true trilogy, not just three movies linked by the characters. The trilogy could have relied on characters and timing for comedy, without having to constantly top itself.

There are probably tons of other ways to accomplish the same thing, but these are my suggestions.

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