There are undoubtedly going to be comparisons (and for good reason) between Best Night Ever—about a bachelorette weekend gone horribly wrong in Las Vegas—with Bridesmaids or the dude-centric Hangover series. But other scenes in the raunchy comedy, particularly a hotel scene involving an overweight, naked woman and her companion, are more reminiscent of Sacha Baron Cohen’s mockumentary, Borat.
The pastiche shouldn’t come as a surprise since the film was written and directed by Jason Friedberg and Aaron Seltzer, the duo responsible for parody films such as Date Movie, Epic Movie and The Starving Games. Although the filmmakers strived for a more original narrative than their previous projects, it’s difficult to do so with subject matter that’s been undertaken as many times on screen as there are bridal parties roaming Vegas on any given weekend. While Friedberg and Seltzer added are some original touches, those are outnumbered by numerous moments of déjà vu.
For example, the four female characters on a road trip from L.A. to Vegas seem like a rehash of The Hangover’s leads: the true blue bride-to-be, Claire (Desiree Hall); her uptight sister, Leslie (Samantha Colburn); the party girl, Zoe (Eddie Ritchard) and the bride’s offbeat friend that no one really knows, Janet (Crista Flanagan).
Because of a credit card mishap, the foursome is forced to downgrade from the luxury suite at Caesar’s to a no-tell motel, far from the Las Vegas Strip. Leslie, a pampered housewife, is mortified at the thought of sitting down in the probably bed bug-infested room. In a genuinely riotous scene, they fire up a blacklight app on a phone and the room is even worse than Leslie could have imagined.
The friends try and make the most of their night in Vegas and set out for the first stop on the bachelorette weekend: the strip club. A misunderstanding between the male dancer and Claire gets them kicked out of the club, and the situation deteriorates as the night progresses. They’re mugged and have to earn money to get back to L.A. (It’s a little hard to buy, so just go with it.) Subsequent scenes include gelatin-wrestling, tracking down the mugger, lots of booze, and poop. Unfortunately, Bridesmaids already covered the funny fecal territory, and this onscreen loss of control feels gratuitous—and it’s just gross.
To differentiate Best Night Ever from others in its genre, Friedberg and Seltzer shot the film as “found footage,” with the cast themselves operating cameras during certain scenes. The filmmaking device is plausible, with the women wanting to document a Vegas trip that they probably won’t remember in the morning. It’s a nice trick that ups the laughs at times, but it also proves distracting in other scenes, forcing the viewer to think about the plausibility of a character shooting in particular situations.
Fans of Friedberg’s and Seltzer’s shtick will enjoy the film. There are several laugh-out-loud moments, with Ritchard and Flanagan, especially, doing the most with the material at hand. The film tries to make up for the lack of an original story with over-the-top antics that, most of the time, aren’t funny. Best Night Ever sputters toward the end, devolving into a messy jumble with both the characters and the audience impatiently awaiting the morning’s light.
Directors: Jason Friedberg, Aaron Seltzer
Writers: Jason Friedberg, Aaron Seltzer
Starring: Desiree Hall, Samantha Colburn, Eddie Ritchard, Crista Flanagan
Release Date: Jan. 31, 2014