The Hangover, Part III has me thinking. It has! Particularly about the long history of quartets or foursomes in the movies. Phil, Stu, Alan, and Doug are continuing a long tradition of movie characters congregating in groups of four. Of course, they're a group of four only when Doug (Justin Bartha) is with them, and that's not very often. Each film in the series finds a way to remove Doug from the mix and have the other three get into wild shenanigans without him. Which is the part that has me thinking. Of Hollywood's other famous foursomes, which one would be most likely relegated to the Doug role, if need be? Which is the least essential? Time to get analytical!
The Group: Egon Spengler (Harod Ramis), Raymond Stantz (Dan Aykroyd), Peter Venkman (Bill Murray), Winston Zedmore (Ernie Hudson).
The Doug: Winston
Why Is He The Doug? For one thing, Winston doesn't become a part of the crew until well into the movie. By then, we've seen Peter, Ray, and Egon operate as a cohesive unit. Egon's the brains, Ray's the enthusiasm, Peter's the sass ... and Winston's the other one. Good guy! But very Doug-ish.
Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?
The Group: George (Richard Burton), Honey (Sandy Dennis), Martha (Elizabeth Taylor), Nick (George Segal).
The Doug: Nick
Why Is He The Doug? This one is such a tough call! With only four characters in the entire movie, I'm not sure it holds up without any one of them. But I'm committed to this exercise, and so I'm going with Nick. Obviously, you can't do without George or Martha for any significant length of time. They're the 100-proof lifesblood of the film and it's just not as fun without them. Similarly, Honey's inebriation and reactions to George and Martha's awfulness is so important to understanding them. Nick's a strapping lad who becomes the object of Martha's lustful advances. That's not enough to keep him from Doug status.
The Group: Alice (Natalie Portman), Anna (Julia Roberts), Dan (Jude Law), Larry (Clive Owen).
The Doug: Anna
Why Is She The Doug? Another tough call due to the equal weight given to all four principle characters. So let's break this down: Alice has to stay, because the strip-club scene and the final reveal are the movie's two best parts. Larry has to stay because: strip-club scene and because Clive Owen is generally the greatest in this movie. Which leaves us with weak-willed Dan and indecisive Anna. Dan is sliiiightly more integral because his scenes with Alice are the broken heart of this generally steely film. I quite enjoy Julia Roberts's performance in this film, but she's the least of the four.
The Wizard of Oz
The Group: Dorothy Gale (Judy Garland), The Cowardly Lion (Bert Lahr), The Scarecrow (Ray Bolger), The Tin Man (Jack Haley).
The Doug: The Tin Man
Why Is He The Doug? Okay, obviously, Dorothy is not the Doug. Let's get that out of the way. With the other three, the irony is that each creature's lacking element ends up being there all along. The Scarecrow uses his brains to think up a plan to storm the Witch's castle. The Cowardly Lion ends up showing a good bit of bravery. The Tin Man shows his heart by ... crying so much that he rusts. Sorry, Tin Man.
Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy
The Group: Ron Burgundy (Will Ferrell), Brian Fantana (Paul Rudd), Champ Kind (David Koechner), Brick Tamland (Steve Carell).
The Doug: Champ Kind
Why Is He The Doug? This is an easy call. Ron is the whole point of the film, Brian Fantana has Sex Panther, and Brick killed a guy with a trident. Champ had some pretty slick put-downs of Wes Mantooth vis-à-vis his mother, Dorothy Mantooth, but otherwise, he's the Dougiest of Dougs.
Three Men and a Baby
The Group: Jack Holden (Ted Danson), Michael Kellam (Steve Gutenberg), Peter Mitchell (Tom Selleck), Mary Bennington, a.k.a. The Baby (Lisa and Michelle Blair).
The Doug: Michael
Why Is He The Doug? I was very, very tempted to choose the Baby in this scenario. After all, not only is she the least funny of the four and also gives the most one-dimensional performance (she just SITS THERE!), she also spends a good chunk of the film kidnapped by drug dealers. That's almost a literal Doug scenario. Then again, there really isn't a movie at all without the baby. So, fine, we'll throw Michael overboard. The urban-caroonist thing is a bit too Caroline in the City.
The Group: Heather Chandler (Kim Walker), Heather Duke (Shannen Doherty), Heather McNamara (Lisanne Falk), Veronica Sawyer (Winona Ryder).
The Doug: Heather McNamara
Why Is She The Doug? For most of the movie, Heather Duke is clearly the Doug, because despite the fact that she's played by Shannen Doherty, she doesn't do anything, really. But once Heather Chandler is eliminated and Heather McNamara proves herself unable to ascend to the top of the teen heap, it's Heather Duke who assumes the supreme scrunchie and takes over. So, sadly, poor fragile Heather McNamara has to go.
Previously: One for Me/One for Them: Richard Linklater