Films like Best Night Ever do occasionally make my silly little theorem of bad movies' and their self-awareness entertaining. I mean, it is one thing to think that you are good and fail at it, and another thing to think you are not going to be all that hot and succeed at it, but Best Night Ever falls into an unenviable and little attended area in a whole other regard.
Jason Friedburg and Aaron Seltzer co-wrote and co-directed the film, the two having been responsible for the [Fill in the Blank] movie, be it Scary, Epic, Date or Disaster. The movie follows four women as they go to Las Vegas to celebrate one's pending marriage. Claire (Desiree Hall) is the bride-to-be, while he sister Leslie (Samantha Coburn) has orchestrated the celebration. Rounding out the quartet are their friends Zoe (Eddie Ritchard, Don't Be Afraid of the Dark), who films the weekend for posterity, and Janet (Christa Flanagan, Meet The Spartans), a new mother but also one who is willing to take risks during a party, kind of a shorter, blonder "Frank the Tank." A week before Claire's wedding they go to Vegas and the subsequent hijinks are shown.
There is little denying that Best Night Ever is bad. However, the weird bad is that fundamentally, the film is exponentially worse in its storytelling and its choices than it is in the ensemble that is trying to pull it off. The premise is transparently in the vein of the Hangover films with a heavy dusting of Bridesmaids. The actresses seem to know this and throw themselves into the material as best they can. There even seems to be a tinge of range in the performances of Hall and Coburn. And Flanagan following the McCarthy/Galafianakis in this film is fine, considering the role she has to play.
For as little qualm I have on the ensemble, I am left wondering what is it exactly in Best Night Ever that Friedburg and Seltzer were looking to accomplish. Consider that the film runs 82 minutes, end credits inclusive. There are two montages set to music in the movie and a scene where the women are in a dumpster hiding from some bad people which take up about 12 minutes of film in and of themselves. Many of the scenes overstay their welcome to be sure and you are left checking your watch as a result, but these three are among the more egregious infractions. Specifically, the one in the dumpster is shot with a night vision camera, and one of the women is calming another by singing the old Four Non-Blondes song "What's Up" (a.k.a. "What's Going On?"). The singing pretty much hits its second chorus before being rudely/comically interrupted by a homeless man who is also in the dumpster (to the surprise of the ladies) and wishes to join in. The comic diffusing is okay, but why do these moments have to last three or four minutes in order to get there?
And because these things last so long, the desire to tell the story for any character that would have any emotional resonance is halfhearted and thus predictable. The only real substantive character conflict occurs with Claire and it is barely existent, Leslie's arc is fairly paint by numbers, and though Zoe is mainly behind the camera and the link to shooting things does get tenuous at times, Janet more than makes up for it with a mix of moments that are supposed to be funny (they aren't) and to borrow a term, scatological. If you do wind up seeing Best Night Ever you will see why.
Oddly enough, you really should not see why. Because Best Night Ever hopes the viewer who liked the films who have done these stories before will see this film, it does not deter from the fact that the film is awful on basic levels. Even the efforts of the largely unknown ensemble do not save the fact that the film is a waste of time and exercise. If you want to watch a film about men (or women) losing their collective shit in Las Vegas, go see those films, do not see this one. A bad movie, while perhaps knowing that it is bad, still has to put in some effort to allow you to buy into it, and this fails at it.
Best Night Ever is presented in 1.78:1 widescreen and uses the AVC codec for its high-definition transfer, and the results are not bad. The film is shot entirely using handheld cameras and even some GoPro cameras help to emphasize the point, and the colors are reproduced accurately, be it pastels in the women's clothing or neons in a rave. In the many scenes of darkness the black levels are consistent and faithful to the scene with little artifacts or DNR involved to distract from the image. Magnet has done fine by the film for sure.
The DTS HD Master Audio 5.1 surround track is pleasantly dynamic for a sleepy little production as this. Dialogue is well-balanced and consistent, and there is a hint of channel panning to boot. But the film does a lot of work on the low end, with a few techno songs showing off the bass, and possessing a fairly broad soundstage. In quieter moments the ambient effects are clear and noticeable as well and overall, at least the film is nice to listen to.
Three deleted scenes (7:13) make the film a little more on the montage side of things, though does seem to include an ending which would have been a touch better I think. Next are interviews (8:30) with Hall, Coburn and Flanagan where they discuss working on the project and on Vegas and their favorite scenes in it. AXS TV does a making of for the film which is brief (2:54) and covers most of the same stuff. A trailer (1:22) completes things.
Years from now, when people ask me about my darkest experience or most shameful period, I can tell them about the time when I watched Best Night Ever on a spring afternoon and almost had my day crapped on as a result (well, not entirely). While the film looks good and sounds not bad on Blu-ray, and the extras are average, the fact of the matter is the film really should be avoided for favor of other films that do it much better than this.