Best Night Ever is genuinely one of the funnier films to come out in a long time. It’s got slapstick, humiliation, absurdity and old fashioned good humor bursting from every seam, but is that enough? Will filmgoers demand more from a movie than just a string of outrageous events to point and laugh at? Most likely, yes, but that shouldn’t stop anyone from giving Best Night Ever a shot. The comedy is too good to ignore.
Claire (Desiree Hall) is getting married. That means she needs to have a bachelorette party. So Claire, her older sister, Leslie (Samantha Colburn), best friend Zoe (Eddie Ritchard), and business acquaintance Janet (Crista Flanagan), make the cliché trek to Las Vegas where the four women can run around town with reckless abandon. Unfortunately, plans take a turn for the worse almost immediately when Leslie’s credit cards don’t work and she can’t pay for the hotel suite, landing the girls in a nasty motel in a seedy part of town. From there the evening becomes a night of survival as the women wade into a lifestyle of strippers, drugs and kidnapping.
Despite the Best Night Ever having a beginning, middle and end, there is almost no story here. After the initial setup of arriving in Las Vegas for a night of drunken revelry, the events that follow are only barely connected. As a result, it’s impossible to predict where the girls are going to end up next and what they’re going to be doing. In some respects, this can be interesting (and sometimes necessary) since predictability is poison to drama. But when nothing can be predicted in a story, then audiences are just left with chaos. This can be a big turnoff for moviegoers. Even with a film like Best Night Ever, with its let-the-wind-carry-us-where-it-will theme, complete chaos can become exhausting quickly. Thankfully, the comedy and the cast are strong enough to pull off this gamble.
Best Night Ever certainly pushes the boundaries of good humor and good taste. The filmmakers make sure to let audiences know what they’re in store for early on with a peek into the bachelorette party where Claire sits in a chair while an enormously endowed male stripper flails his appendage at her face. Later, the girls taunt a male passerby to show them his scrotum and he happily obliges, with the camera focusing unflinchingly on it. It’s hard not to appreciate the film’s gusto. But the comedy isn’t all about sex and sex organs (though it mostly is), there are a lot of great sight gags and absurdist humor, like when Janet coughs blood in a paramedic’s face or when the girls take revenge on a suspected robber. The chemistry within the group is also undeniable and helps add to the overall humor, especially when the film takes a conventional turn and the young women play a bachelorette party game that has them performing silly stunts in public with perfect strangers.
The cast makes a valiant effort to remain in character throughout the film, but their characters are only really distinguishable early on when they’re being introduced to the audience. Nevertheless, the actresses all carry the film very well, and their fearlessness to say and do the things the script calls for is admirable. This is excellent and inspired casting.
It’s worth mentioning that the camera is essentially a character in the movie, offering a kind of real-time found footage experience. Obviously, this gives the film a more visceral feel, but it also makes the movie feel lower budgeted than it should. It also brings all of the contrivances that come with writing in reasons to drag a camera around and keep filming, even in dire situations. Sometimes this works for the film, other times it doesn’t.
Watching Best Night Ever is akin to watching a comedy channel on YouTube. It’s the same cast of characters doing different, unrelated things from video to video. But, provided the humor is enjoyable, it’s difficult to leave that experience dissatisfied. This film doesn’t offer much in the way of story or character development, but it’s the individual moments and set pieces that audiences will be sharing with friends. Filmgoers looking for an outrageous time in the theater will find it here.