Let’s get the obvious out of the way immediately: Best Night Ever is invariably going to be compared to The Hangover. Invariably (hell, it’s even mentioned on the poster). And perhaps to the recent geezer-fest, Last Vegas, depending on who saw it. I didn’t, so I won’t (although I did in a previous article, so the point is moot I guess). In this case, however, the comparison is apt. Best Night Ever is a gag-a-minute, at times uproarious, drug- and alcohol-fueled smorgasbord of sins in the city named for them. It’s a lighthearted, disgusting, raunchy, nicely-R Rated romp buoyed by four fresh-faced actresses who portray a fun cadre of sisterhood that proved they can fuck up Vegas just as well as the boys and, hopefully, will have bigger things ahead of them.
Best Night Ever has little pretension and only one goal: show a crazy night where four women get buck wild in Vegas and drag the audience along for the ride. Safe to say that it’s mission accomplished, which is pretty impressive since half the damn movies that take place in Vegas are seemingly about out-of-towners having a crazy adventure. What’s even more noteworthy is that they do it in the subjective camera motif without it getting tiresome. Lastly, and here’s the biggest shock: it’s written and directed by Jason Friedberg and Aaron Seltzer. Yes, the Scary / Epic / Date / Disaster Movie, Vampires Suck, Meet The Spartans, The Starving Games guys. Yeah, they did a non-spoof movie. And it’s good. Wait, what?
It’s clear from the opening five minutes that the four protagonists on their way to a Vegas bachelorette party: bride-to-be, Claire (Desiree Hall), best friend and wild child, Zoe (Eddie Ritchard), anal older sis, Leslie (Samantha Colburn) and new friend Janet (Crista Flanagan) are a fun collective. Friedberg and Seltzer outline their personalities quickly during the ride to Sin City and the movie has a nice fast start with minimal backstory to clog up the proceedings. It’s not long before the numerous gags and adventures (I’m thinking roughly 2 to 1 to The Hangover’s gags) are in full swing, with a disgusting and humorous black light reveal in the ladies’ seedy motel room. And when Claire’s electronic dildo tiara malfunctions and gives her some Michael Jackson ill-fated Pepsi commercial action, you know the night’s going to be ridiculous.
From there it’s on to things like a male strip club outing that goes fairly wrong, a larcenous encounter in an alley, a jello wrestling match that goes really wrong, various partying and excursions powered by happy pills and booze, a quest for revenege that goes horribly wrong, and quite a few other shenanigans, tomfoolery and ballyhoo. The movie finds the minimal amount of opportunities to slow down and is almost on a Neveldine/ Taylor timetable in terms of the action. Silly as the totality of the night is, what really wins is the girls’ camaraderie. And thankfully, there’s no Galiafinakis’ Alan-type character to grate on you. No one of the girls stands out; it really is the ensemble that works and wins. Friedberg and Seltzer spreads around the lunacy and the four actresses are all good in their roles.
With a film trying to pack as much in as Best Night Ever does, there’s bound to be some missteps. For instance, one of the characters – the least likely one in fact – goes off with a man without the others for seemingly no reason whatsoever, leading to a crazy confrontation in a hotel. But for the most part, Friedberg and Seltzer have put together a quite enjoyable female adventure here. They came up with a few new calamities in which to get some characters in trouble in Las Vegas and they did it in found-footage style and somehow made it work. Considering the atrocious average rating their films have on Rotten Tomatoes, it really is a big surprise. Best Night Ever is the best time I’ve had in Vegas in a while.
Best Night Ever is from Magnolia Pictures and Magnet Releasing and premieres OnDemand / iTunes on December 26 and in theatres January 31, 2014.
Out of a Possible 5 Stars