Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (April 27, 2014)
Remember when The Hangover became a huge hit in 2009? So do the creators of 2013’s Best Night Ever, a flick that offers a female-based twist on the earlier movie’s concept.
To celebrate Claire’s (Desiree Hall) upcoming wedding, her friends take her on a bachelorette trip to Las Vegas. Organized by her sister Leslie (Samantha Colburn), the group also includes Claire’s BFF Zoe (Eddie Ritchard) and wild new pal Janet (Crista Flanagan). Zoe brings a video camera so she can document every moment of the trek; these recordings become our view of the action.
The trip leads to more excitement than anyone expected. Uptight Leslie tries to choreograph a staid weekend of fine dining and Celine Dion, but matters get wild before too long. We follow the antics and obstacles that pop up along the way.
Though I alluded to Hangover at the start, Ever owes an equal debt to another recent hit: 2011’s Bridesmaids. Without its extension of the “R”-rated comedy into female-oriented territory, I don’t believe Ever wouldn exist.
I feel more sure of that given the “talent” behind Ever, as Jason Friedberg and Aaron Seltzer wrote/directed the flick. Those guys made their names via a series of spoof films such as Epic Movie and Date Movie.
A series of really awful spoof films, to be exact. Honestly, if I’d noticed up front that those two created Ever, I probably wouldn’t have bothered; I’ve never seen them produce anything even vaguely humorous and had no reason to believe Ever would change that losing streak.
Though at least Ever doesn’t offer another direct parody ala the earlier Friedberg/Seltzer films. Sure, it shows a heavy influence from Hangover and Bridesmaids - and by “heavy influence”, I mean “it rips them off” – but it doesn’t spoof those films. We’re intended to view Ever as another in the long line of “one crazy night” tales, one that goes with a “found footage” viewpoint.
I wasn’t wild about Hangover, but it looks like a comedy classic compared to this stinker. While Ever lacks the mind-bending awfulness of the Friedberg/Seltzer parodies, that doesn’t mean it delivers any actual amusement. It takes the basics of its influences and plops them in front of us without a hint of creativity or humor. It doesn’t know how to do anything clever with the situations, so it just hurls them at us and hopes we’ll react in a positive way.
We won’t – or at least I didn’t. There’s no real narrative thrust at work here, as unlike Hangover, the film lacks any form of tale to be told. Ever simply exists as a long reel of shenanigans without any clear character or plot elements to focus them.
It also fails to present actors to can add to or redeem the material. The leads are all lovely women and they don’t do poorly in their parts, but they can’t bring any life to them. Every once in a while, Flanagan threatens to convey some personality, but she’s no Melissa McCarthy, so she doesn’t make much of her scenes.
Not that I’d expect McCarthy or anyone else to fix the broken vehicle that is Best Night Ever. With actual talent behind the camera, it could’ve become a watchable ripoff of The Hangover, but as it stands, it gives us a slow, tedious collection of bad comedy.
Footnote: an additional segment shows up after the conclusion of the end credits.