The Hangover was sold on a pitch (there’s actually some controversy over who exactly came up with the idea) and although it’s not my favorite comedy of recent years, I can see how its unique variation on a classic comedy premise sold it to a major studio.
We’ve seen the bachelor party comedy before and the Las Vegas comedy before and the “group of friends bonding and solving their own personal issues through a road trip” comedy before, but we hadn’t seen this hook…
The guys don’t remember the bachelor party and must follow clues to re-enact their crazy night and find the groom.
The twist is fun, unique and universal: It’s not about the bachelor party, it’s about the day after.
The stakes are high: They must find the groom and get him back in time for the wedding.
The POV is strong: We learn about the previous night’s adventures as the characters do, so there is a strong sense of discovery. What makes this structure interesting is that it does not employ flashbacks, which would have been the traditional route of showing the events of the bachelor party. The focus is on the present throughline, which is built on a strong External Goal: to find their missing friend. The guys will get in new adventures on their way to piecing together their forgotten adventures, which are shown in visual and active ways, like in props and photos and in meeting new characters.
The Full Story Map for The Hangover will be featured in my E-Book Story Maps: How to Write the GREAT Screenplay, available soon. Please stay tuned to the site for updates.
Good Luck and Happy Writing!