MRR Review: "Best Night Ever"

Photo Credit: Magnet Releasing

Rating: R
Length: 90 minutes
Release Date: January 31, 2014
Directed by: Jason Friedberg, Aaron Seltzer
Genre: Comedy

"Best Night Ever" proves that guys aren't the only ones who can have fun. It also proves that guys aren't the only ones who suffer some serious consequences from having too much fun. This raucous, manic comedy from directing team Jason Friedberg and Aaron Seltzer openly invites comparisons to "The Hangover." Following a typical bachelorette party in Las Vegas that rapidly spirals out of control, "Best Night Ever" is the girly counterpart to "The Hangover." While gender equality is only fair, the end result is a comedy so unrelentingly wild that the viewers might end up with a hangover by proxy. Depending on the viewer's mood, though, this isn't necessarily a drawback.

Friedberg and Seltzer have made a name for themselves by parodying blockbuster movies. Compared to their other works, "Best Night Ever" doesn't seem like a parody as much as a tribute. Some moments are so over-the-top that the movie veers into satire. As a whole, though, the movie is a mostly successful attempt at original humor. While "The Hangover" follows the aftermath of a night of debauchery, for example, "Best Night Ever" goes directly to the source. This is a unique comedy that insists on showing every crazy moment. Friedberg and Seltzer seem to be moving away from parody and instead directing more straightforward comedic directors. If this effort is any indicator, they could have an interesting future.

The premise of "Best Night Ever" is deceptively simple at first. Claire (Desiree Hall) is going to tie the knot. Before she says "I do," she's getting together with three of her friends to celebrate her last days of freedom. Claire's sister, Leslie (Samantha Colburn), comes along for the ride, although she risks becoming a killjoy. The irrepressible Zoe (Eddie Ritchard), Claire's friend since childhood, joins the sisters. Janet (Crista Flanagan), a new addition to the social circle, rounds out the group. The four women are heading to Las Vegas, the only city that can offer the kind of glitzy bacchanalia that Claire has in mind. Zoe has apparently never heard the saying that what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas because she's bringing along a camcorder for posterity. This shaky, found footage style gives the film an extra sense of intimacy, like watching home videos with a chatty friend. It can also make the movie's frantic scenes a little too frantic, but at least this gives the plot an authentically tipsy vibe.

Once the four women arrive in Las Vegas, their desire to have a good time leads Claire, Leslie, Zoe and Janet down a rabbit hole of wild misadventures and improbable accidents. Leslie is willing to shill out for a fancy suite, but credit card snafus land the four women in a much less hospitable area of the city and a far less swanky hotel. Trying to move on from this disappointment and salvage the celebration, Claire and company head to a male strip club for a little traditional bachelorette fun. Bad luck and poor decisions follow them there, too, and soon the friends end up unceremoniously banished from the club.

Before long, anything that could go wrong during a bachelorette party in Sin City starts going wrong — sometimes because of inebriated choices, sometimes because of bad luck. A comically vulgar tiara goes up in flames. A Jello wrestling match ends in the worst possible way. A cellphone app reveals that the hotel room has been occupied many, many times before. At one point, the four women end up crouched together inside a dumpster, singing to pass the time as they evade the authorities.

Flanagan, Colburn, Hall and Ritchard are not A-list actresses yet, but they bring a lot of energy and a sense of camaraderie to the screen. Most movies about bridal parties, even comedic ones, tend to focus on the emotional side of an impending marriage and the end of carefree youth. "Best Night Ever" takes a fresh perspective, not lingering too much on cold feet or friendly rivalries. Instead, the four actresses are able to unleash their screwball comedic talents and go for the slapdash, crude humor with a gusto that might make Will Ferrell or Zach Galifianakis proud. In addition, "Best Night Ever" is a fun and appropriately tacky love song to Las Vegas. Anyone who has ever spent a memorable weekend in Sin City will enjoy seeing the city on display in such a joyously zany way.

Like the films it draws inspiration from, "Best Night Ever" is quick-paced from start to finish. The unlucky protagonists end up hustled from one wild scenario to the next, with gimmicks and gags piling high. Friedberg and Seltzer don't make any apologies for creating a light-hearted, rowdy movie. Full of gleeful gross-out humor and raunchy punch lines, this comedy has all the bravado of the tipsiest person at the party telling a well-known joke. Maybe everybody already knows exactly what will happen next, but it's still a lot of fun to watch things unfold.

Rating: 3 out of 5