Writer’s art doesn’t reflect his life

If there’s one thing La Cañada Flintridge screenwriter

and public schools booster Craig Mazin would like fellow Palm Crest Elementary School parents to know, it’s that for him life definitely doesn’t imitate art.

That’s because Mazin — a PTA volunteer and member of the La Cañada Flintridge Educational Foundation’s Fundraising Task Force — is one of three writers behind “The Hangover Part 2,” widely anticipated to be this summer’s raunchiest comedy blockbuster.

In 2009’s “The Hangover,” the highest-grossing R-rated comedy ever, three friends wake up in a trashed Las Vegas hotel room unable to remember the events of an outrageous bachelor party the night before. In retracing their forgotten steps to find a missing friend (the groom, of all people), they piece together a comical riot of strippers, drugs and extreme mischief.

For the sequel, which opens Thursday nationwide, writer-director Todd Phillips tapped Mazin and co-writer Scott Armstrong (who weren’t involved in the original) to dream up an even wilder lost evening for the familiar characters played by Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms and Zach Galifianakis in some of the seedier corners of Bangkok.

“If they were going to have that experience again, we wanted to make it so much worse,” said Mazin, 40. “This time, when they wake up they know they have the capacity to do terrible things. They’re in another country where they don’t speak the language, they’re hot, they’re scared, and they find at least one thing in the room that immediately signals to the audience that this is much more serious business than the first movie.”

In late 2010, Mazin traveled with the crew to film on location in Bangkok, seeing firsthand in the blazing heat of day how the city’s no-restraint strip clubs and party houses clean up after the unabashed real-life debauchery of the night before.

“A lot of days I found myself trying to find a place to put my laptop that didn’t look too gross. But it is gross, and that’s important. That’s what the title means. We pay for our fun,” he said. “When we see things in the light we realize it really wasn’t that much fun after all. That’s part of why I think people loved the first one. It’s about something universal: regret.”

Mazin, who moved to La Cañada in 2002, was working in advertising in the mid-1990s when he sold his first script, the Disney comedy “Rocket Man.”

His star rose quickly as he went on to work as a writer, director and/or producer on several other films, including “School for Scoundrels,” the Leslie Nielsen comedy “Superhero Movie,” and two installments of the off-color Scary Movie spoof franchise — comedies one might hardly expect to have come from the mind of a PTA dad.

Nonetheless, Mazin and wife Melissa, who is president of the La Cañada Junior Women’s Club, have found time to maintain very active roles in supporting the community, especially when it comes to the educations of their two children, 9-year-old son Jack and daughter Jessica, 6, both enrolled at Palm Crest.

“My wife has gotten a big group of La Cañada folks together to head out and see the movie, and I keep thinking people are going to look at me a lot different than they do now,” said Mazin about sharing the wilder side of his imagination on the silver screen.

“But the truth is, that’s my sense of humor. All I can say to people is it’s how I write my movies, not how I live my life.”

[Editor’s note: This article originally appeared in the print edition of the Valley Sun on May 26.]