Taking a stand for artistic integrity, director Todd Phillips has avowed that the forthcoming The Hangover Part III will be the franchise’s final chapter—despite Warner Bros.’ intimations that it could and should go on forever—and boldly refused to allow his creation to slip into formulaic repetition more than maybe two times at most. Phillips made the announcement while also revealing that the third and final film is scheduled for release on May 24, 2013, promising another Memorial Day weekend of America paying tribute to the concept of remembrance by ritualistically reliving 90 minutes of Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms, and Zach Galifianakis drifting through a montage of B-movie dangers and shit that happens to Ed Helms’ face. Or maybe not: Phillips also swears, “We're going to surprise a lot of people with the final chapter we have planned”—a shake-up that The Hollywood Reporter also hinted at when it noted that the next film will take place in Los Angeles and “deviate from the forgotten-debauchery formula of the first movies,” despite making a ton of money with that formula and still being called The Hangover.
The fact that Justin Bartha isn’t included in the announcement might be the biggest indicator yet that Phillips is looking to try new things this last time out (either that, or Bartha has finally officially been relegated to “extra”). But of course, no matter what surprises are in store—surprises that likely won’t be extreme enough to disturb audiences seeking the comfortingly familiar and will still probably include a ridiculously contrived reason for Ken Jeong to be there, because neither Phillips nor Warner Bros. are stupid—Phillips says, “It will be a fitting conclusion to our three-part opera of mayhem, despair and bad decisions.” Because if The Hangover’s epic cycle can be compared to anything, it is definitely an opera, like Wagner’s Ring with more masturbating monkey jokes.