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OK, Here's What Really Happened
Alan is not doing well. In fact, he's not doing much of anything, and his family has grown increasingly concerned. "The guys, led by Doug, who is Alan's brother-in-law as well as his friend, stage an intervention in the hopes of getting him into a facility where he can get some help and put his life in order," says Phillips. "Knowing he can't do it alone, Doug enlists Phil and Stu. So it's helping Alan that brings the four of them together."

Naturally, Alan is resistant, but he finally gives in to the irresistible promise of a road trip with his three best friends.

"Alan has to be told he's having a midlife crisis because he's not aware of it," Galifianakis admits. "He has no idea. I guess it's more like a coming-of-age crisis, but it's hard to come of age when you're already over 40."

Unbeknownst to the four of them, though, Alan's long-overdue bid for mental health coincides with an equally momentous event occurring halfway around the world: Leslie Chow is breaking out of prison, "Shawshank"-style, and, like a malevolent genie freshly uncorked, will waste no time in bringing havoc into the lives of anyone close to him. And no one is closer to him than Alan.

As a result, states Helms, "What starts out as a fairly magnanimous gesture quickly escalates into utter chaos and hell."

Still, Phillips asserts, "If you talk to people who love these movies, they'll often say they wish they had a friend like Alan, and that's largely attributable to Zach. He has such sweetness behind his eyes, that he can say and do most anything and you'll think, 'Oh, he didn't mean it like that.' So he gets away with all sorts of things. People love Alan for his innocence, his big heart, and his ability to just have a good time without worrying about what other people think -- which is good, even though he always goes too far and screws it up."

While Alan's unhealthy relationship with Chow ranks high on the list of things that skew his approach to life, there isn't a single member of the Wolfpack who hasn't been affected by its fallout. "It comes to light that Chow did something during the time of the first movie that greatly pissed off a very dangerous enemy. He compounded that offense during the second, and it's all going to come back on him now -- and on Alan, Phil, Stu and Doug," warns Goldberg.

Again, it's Phil who is the first to lose patience. However, once dragged in, he will likely be the last to give up. Though some see this alpha-male character as the most level-headed of the group, Cooper disagrees. "If Phil represents the voice of reason, that's a pretty messed up reality they're living in," he suggests. "I think Phil's view on life is demented in its own way. He can be highly moral but, at the same time, it's a very specific and personal code. He marches to the beat of his own drum, so he may seem rational on the surface, but he's actually willing to go to some pretty extreme places to get things done."

Stu is arguably the group's true voice of reason, but since that voice is so often accompanied by screaming and hyperventilation, it's hard to hear. Loyalty and good intentions aside, improvising at a crime scene just isn't his strong suit. Never was; never will be.

"Stu got married to a beautiful, sophisticated woman in 'The Hangover Part II,'" notes Helms. "And, as typically happens when schlubs like him marry women a class above them, it automatically ups his game. So the Stu we first see in 'Hangover Part III' is right away a little cooler, a little more fashionable. But it's all a house of cards. The minute things get scary, Stu reverts back to his true self. Nerd. Major nerd."

If Chow is the catalyst for chaos, and Phil and Stu the ones working for a solution, and if Alan is the linchpin for every mistake and wrong turn they've ever made... then Doug, poor Doug, is the collateral damage.

"Yeah, Doug gets screwed again," confirms Justin Bartha, wryly reflecting on the role that often has him tied up, blindfolded and shoved into the back of a van. "They know where he is this time; they just don't know how to get him back. I think that even if this wasn't the last movie, it would probably still be the last time that anyone ever saw Doug hanging out with these guys. I think he'd be crazy to pick up the phone next time they call because they've gotten him into so much trouble already."

Goldberg takes a more philosophical view: "That's his lot in life, unfortunately. We love Doug, but he's just meant to be kidnapped, misplaced, or stuck on a rooftop."

Similarly, Leslie Chow is just meant to stir up trouble. Ken Jeong first came aboard as Chow in "The Hangover," and his uninhibited portrayal helped develop the supporting role into something vastly more significant, to the delight of fans around the world.

Says Jeong, "Chow is like a squib, a little cap that explodes and makes a mess everywhere. You never know if he has a trace of fear in his heart or not, because that tiny bit of vulnerability he exposes might just be a trick to draw you in. In this film we see him, for the first time, in a seriously compromised position and it's possible that, like Alan, he's finally exploring the consequences of his actions. Or, knowing Chow, maybe not."

"Not to get too highfalutin' about it, but if you look at Greek drama there were humans and gods, and the gods weren't always nice," offers Mazin. "Sometimes they were terrible. They would insert themselves into the lives of humans and they were immortal so you couldn't kill them, you couldn't stop them, and they would just do whatever they wanted and disrupt things for everyone. That's Chow. He's a force of nature. He's the god of mayhem."

But this time the Wolfpack's troubles are far bigger than Chow. Now, the one calling the shots and making the threats is a guy who makes him look like a camp counselor. John Goodman takes on the mysterious role of Marshall, a very bad man in a very bad mood, who sends them on a mission to retrieve something he believes they caused him to lose -- with dire consequences if they fail.

"It's hard not to love John Goodman," says Phillips. "He's so versatile. He can play steely and dead-serious or completely whacked out, or a combination of both."

"Marshall is the prime mover behind everything, the kingpin," Goodman describes. "We don't know a lot about him, which is for the best, except that people jump when he snaps his fingers and they do what he tells them to do. He's pretty scary. Also, he dresses like a plush toy; lots of velour. So he's kind of plushy, kind of squeezable and laid-back...and he kills people."

In addition to introducing Goodman into the mix, "The Hangover Part III" re-introduces some familiar faces, including Hangover alum Jeffrey Tambor, as Alan's beloved father, Sid, who helps to set the stage for this third excursion in a dramatic and most unexpected way; and Heather Graham as Jade, the former Vegas stripper who was once very temporarily married to Stu.

One of the few people to have benefited from her entanglement with the Wolfpack, Jade's life has changed for the better since they first staggered through town. Says Graham, "Like many of the fans, there's a part of me that was thinking maybe Jade would end up with Stu, but even though things turned out differently I'm glad to say that she's happy. I wanted a good ending for her. We all did. Jade has stopped stripping, gotten married and become a suburban mom, and it's easy to believe that her brief introduction to nice-guy Stu was the first step in that process."

Of course, where Jade goes, Tyler can't be far away. Audiences will remember the good-natured infant -- now four -- that Phil, Alan and Stu discovered in their trashed hotel room in "The Hangover," and toted around for a day before identifying him as Jade's son. In fact, Grant Holmquist, the youngster who appears as Tyler in "Part III" was one of several babies who originally shared the role and it was his image on the movie poster art, sporting sunglasses and nestled in a pouch around Alan's neck.

Says Phillips, "He still has those beautiful cheeks and big blue eyes that were so striking. He's not an actor. But he came in and met with us and he seemed very cool. We felt like we knew him, and it was great to have him back."

The filmmakers also welcomed back Mike Epps as the hilariously volatile "Black Doug" -- a moniker he clearly hates and was first coined by the guys, in desperate straits, to distinguish him from their missing friend with the same name.

Additionally, Sasha Barrese returns as the anxious Tracy, forced to split her concern between her husband, Doug, and her brother, Alan. Jamie Chung returns as Lauren, the woman Stu risked life and limb to wed in the second film. Sondra Currie appears again as Alan's long-suffering mother, Linda. And Gillian Vigman is still Phil's better half, Stephanie.

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