Director Todd Phillips is never one to miss an opportunity to emphasize the creativity of The Hangover franchise, except for when he’s actually making it. And that right there is an example of the criticism of The Hangover Part II that Phillips could do without, as he tells Empire that such accusations of formulaic repetition are completely overblown. “It annoys me when people say it’s lazy… Yes, we do a wake-up and a blackout, but every joke in Hangover II is completely different,” Phillips says of his sequel, which distinguishes itself by having jokes about disfiguring face tattoos and masturbating monkeys, instead of the more predictable disfiguring tooth extractions and masturbating babies. Also, it’s in Thailand. The other one is Las Vegas. Phillips concludes, “My feeling is that it's the better movie of the two,” and he’s not just saying that because it’s the one he wrote. “I think in five or 10 years time, people will come to realize how brilliant Hangover II is.”
In the interim, while our intellectually torpid society plods toward the enlightenment necessary to appreciate the comedic brilliance of Ed Helms having sex with a transsexual prostitute, Phillips will make the most immediate case for his brilliance with The Hangover Part III, a film he promises is both “an unequivocal end” to the series and much, much darker than its predecessors. “People die in this movie,” he says. “Nobody's died in them before.” And perhaps once The Hangover Part III sees the trio awaking from a wild night to discover they may have caused the genocide in Darfur, it won’t take five or 10 years to realize how brilliant this one is.