Hollywood has long celebrated the antics and hijinks of testosterone and bachelor parties but rarely has it turned the tables and delivered the female perspective. While plenty of films have looked at brides and bridesmaids, no one but for Leslye Headland and the uproarious Bachelorette has examined the teeth-gnashing, sabotaging, madness and mayhem of friends and bachelorette party debauchery until now with BEST NIGHT EVER.
With BEST NIGHT EVER, co-writers/directors Jason Friedberg and Aaron Seltzer, take us on a bachelorette party road trip to Las Vegas under the guise that “what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas”. Or does it? Vacillating between laugh-out-loud funny and “WTF?”, BEST NIGHT EVER feels original and fresh in certain instances, but then repeatedly falls into hackneyed, poorly mimicked skits from recent films like 21 & Over, Bridesmaids, Bachelorette, the Hangover trilogy and even the most recent Vegas excursion in Paradise, just to name a few.
Bride-to-be Claire is being feted to a Las Vegas bachelorette party by her sister, Leslie, friend Zoe and their manicurist, Janet. Planning on a weekend to end all weekends filled with fun and frolic, what results are mishaps, humiliation and downright disgusting misconduct. Stranded with no money thanks to Leslie’s undisclosed impending divorce and frozen bank accounts, lunacy becomes the mother of invention as rather than call family or friends for cash, the girls elect to stay and make the best of things. But you can decide for yourselves if being victims of a robbery, competing in a Jell-O wrestling match for cash, escaping an ambulance, having your Louis Vuitton shoes stolen (by a guy no less) and being forced to get a room in a motel that could challenge any forensic team at CSI or the Jeffersonian in identifying all the microbes and semen on sheets, walls, floors, furniture, as being “making the best of things.”. And did I mention crude instances of urination and defecation?
One highlight for the girls though is a bachelorette party scavenger hunt, played out as a music montage through Vegas. So engaging is this sequence, I see it more as a stand alone music video than feeling like a last minute insert into a film. It's fun, freeing, light and carefree - and totally belies the rather raunchy shenanigans happening in the rest of the film. Peeing and pooping on a man's face just doesn't jive with the joy of the montage. Other scenes have a cut and paste sensibility when viewed within the whole. On their own, they are funny, make sense. But when edited together, create a definite sense of disconnect within the film as a whole.
Shawn Maurer's cinematography is vivid, colorful, crisp with a definite - and tonally appropriate for the story - color saturation and richness. Maurer has fun with the Fremont Street montage and his enjoyment shows within his framing, celebratory lighting and captivating rich color.
The most outstanding aspect of the film, however, comes in the form of Crista Flanagan. As Janet, she is a firecracker; not to mention a dead ringer for a 1980's Faith Ford as Corky Sherwood Forest on "Murphy Brown." In fact, her mannerisms, speech pattern, cadence, facial expressiveness as Janet is all Corky Sherwood. And I LOVED that. Flanagan's enthusiasm and casual naivete is infectious and fun (but for the pooping and peeing on the face). She buoys the film with bubbling effervescence and gives it some sense of entertainment.
Sadly, same can’t be said for the performances of Desiree Hall, Samantha Colburn and Eddie Ritchard who, as Claire, Leslie and Zoe, respectfully, not only do not resonate, but prove unlikeable. More enjoyable than these three lead actresses are some of the colorful supporting players like Skylar Stone and Nick Steele.
While the story is meant to be filled with implausibles, some things just go beyond making me think a lot is poor script supervision or lack of clarity of thought in story structure. You get $300 and one of the party has no shoes so you go to the 24/7 drugstore/mart store and get scissors, ski masks and sweat shirts yet not even a pair of flip flops? Not only not believable, but unfunny. No Louis Vuitton-wearing woman who is now barefoot would run through streets and alleys of Las Vegas barefoot. Compounding this is that I would venture to say a good majority of the demographic who will see this film have been to Vegas. $300 wouldn't have covered the store, the food, the tourist stuff downtown for four people. Interestingly, not a dollar is spent on gambling.
Unfortunately, Friedberg and Seltzer, who had the opportunity to make something original fell to Epic Movie level parody that has more misses than hits. BEST NIGHT EVER is like a game of Blackjack. You're sitting on a 13, dealer has a 17. It's a crap shoot whether to take another card and try for the win or bust.
Written and Directed by Jason Friedberg and Aaron Seltzer
Cast: Desiree Hall, Samantha Colburn, Eddie Ritchard, Crista Flanagan