BEST NIGHT EVER
*1/2 (out of 5)
January 31, 2014
Desiree Hall as CLAIRE
Samantha Colburn as LESLIE
Eddie Ritchard as ZOE
Crista Flanagan as JANET
Directed by: Jason Friedberg & Aaron Seltzer
BY KEVIN CARR
Listen to Kevin’s radio review…
I just realized that while I’ve not seen all of Ridley Scott’s films or Alfred Hitchcock’s complete filmography, I have seen every goddamn film that Jason Friedberg and Aaron Seltzer have directed. So when I tell you that these are two of the worst directors in Hollywood, I know what I’m talking about.
With the exception of Adam Sandler and Tyler Perry, few filmmakers have consistently found their films on the list of most reviled of the year. While I did enjoy “Date Movie” to a minor degree, and my hatred for all things “Twilight” made me chuckle a bit during “Vampires Suck,” I do not like these guys’ movies.
Still, I was intrigued by the fact that “Best Night Ever” was the first film they made that wasn’t a direct spoof of anything. (Sure, the trailer makes the film look like a send-up of last year’s “Spring Breakers” with the girls wearing DayGlo ski masks, but aside from this wardrobe, it has nothing to do with that film.) I’m a big fan of people working outside of their comfort zone, even if I’m not a fan of those people in particular.
Unfortunately, with “Best Night Ever,” Friedberg and Seltzer trade in one gimmick for another. They dropped the overall spoof structure and picked up the found footage style. This is the downfall of the film, which would have been mildly tolerable had it not been shot with a Wal-Mart video camera.
The story follows bride-to-be Claire (Desiree Hall) who travels to Las Vegas for a wild bachelorette party with three friends. One of the friends, wild child Zoe (Eddie Ritchard) insists on videotaping every aspect of the trip (which in itself doesn’t make sense since we later learn that she has warrants out for her arrest, so this entire video journal becomes incriminating evidence when shit eventually gets real for the girls). Throughout the night, events escalate to dangerous levels, which includes drug use, debauchery, felony assault and revenge.
Like last year’s odious “Bachelorette,” “Best Night Ever” tries to deliver a version of “The Hangover” with girls. However, like “Bachelorette,” the movie ends up featuring horrible people doing horrible things. Or, at the very least, stupid things.
There’s very little story to stand on, so when you strip away the raucous behavior and foul language, we have two-dimensional and weak characters. This leaves the film with about seven minutes of actual story, and that doesn’t make a good film. Had the movie not been found footage, perhaps Friedberg and Seltzer would have been forced to actually write decent characters and a real plot.
Sadly, this is the greater problem with found footage. Let’s leave the logical elements aside – including the characters insisting on videotaping everything, continuing to videotape when events would compel you to drop the camera and run, as well as why does the sometimes “hidden” camera always end up framing people for dialogue scenes.
Instead, “Best Night Ever” reveals all the other problems with found footage. The shaky cinematography is nauseating. The heavier dialogue scenes are miraculously and seamlessly edited together with multi-camera coverage. The nonexistent soundtrack suddenly shows up, mixed over montage sequences. The characters spend more time talking about, addressing and excusing the camera than anyone would in real life.
In short, “Cloverfield” gave us a better explanation for the need to film every goddamn second.
I applaud Friedberg and Seltzer for stepping outside of their comfort zone. However, with six other movies under their belt (half of which were bona fide hits), you’d think these guys could finally put together a decent story. So far, I am unconvinced they can.