Over the GW
A cult-like rehabilitation center abuses, brainwashes and imprisons vulnerable teens.
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Nate Z (us) wrote: There are no more reviled names in the world of comedy than the duo of Jason Friedberg and Aaron Seltzer. Together, these writer/directors have unleashed such loathsome films as Epic Movie, Meet the Spartans, and their most recent spoof, The Starving Games. Each film was further evidence that Friedberg and Seltzer had no grasp on the basic tenets of comedy. But, free of the shackles of a spoof formula, what could these two accomplish? That's a question no one on the planet was seriously pondering but here comes Best Night Ever, a found footage comedy where four thirty-something female friends (Desiree Hall, Samantha Colburn, Eddie Ritchard, Crista Flanagan) travel to Las Vegas and get into oh so scandalous trouble. How original, right? Being Friedberg and Setlzer's first straight comedy, it's fascinating how it fails in a completely different yet similar manner than their normal spoof monstrosities. The problem, among others, with their spoofs is that they are not structured for comedy but merely lame pop-culture references, with the reference standing in the place of what should be a joke. It's a notable absence of comedy. With their first original work, Friedberg and Seltzer lose the references but forget to replace them with, you know, comedy. Take for instance a scenario where our four heroines hide in a dumpster. The police are outside and they don't want to be caught. All right, this setup could afford some nice squeamish comedy. Instead, we hold onto the same painfully long night vision shot (4 minutes and 45 seconds - thanks Ignatiy Vishnevetsky at AV Club) with the ladies breathing heavily. It takes several minutes until this situation changes, when the girls start singing "What's Up?" by 4 Non Blondes as a patented means of soothing a panicked friend, which itself isn't any funnier. Let's unpack this scene. They're in an uncomfortable place and forced to be quiet lest they alert the police. Why set this up and do nothing with it? And the supposed payoff for the scene is more a jump scare than a joke, and it's not worth the wait. There's also a lengthy dialogue-free montage where the girls no a scavenger hunt of activities around Vegas, most of which are fairly innocuous for a sex comedy (rub a bald man's head?). There's no wilder escalation. When the girls put a blacklight to their seedy motel room, it goes as expected. Oh no, semen stains are everywhere, but you keep waiting for a capper. It's got to be more than this, something different, something a little more bizarre, like perhaps someone spelling out their name in semen. Nope. And that's Best Night Ever in a nutshell (no pun intended): a tediously long wait without payoff or jokes. Best Night Ever wants to pretend it's intended for a female audience but the writing makes it seems like Friedberg and Setlzer don't know women. It's a girls' night out, and from a male perspective, which means a lot of shouting, "woo," dancing, drinking, and all sorts of tame activities. None of these people feel like human beings, let alone friends that we should care about. Being Friedberg and Seltzer's first R-rated comedy, the guys should be embracing the tasteless possibilities, getting their ladies into crazy scenarios that spiral out of control. Instead, the whole sad affair has such a timid feel, as if Friedberg and Seltzer decided a largely female audience would be put off by too much crass content. There's a sequence where the ladies take pills they found in am ambulance. All right, you're thinking, this should lead somewhere. Oh how wrong you'd always be expecting something from these two filmmakers. We're treated to an extended sequence of the girls just dancing for several minutes, in slow-mo no less, mouthing, "Best night ever." That's it. Why does the movie repeatedly pull its punches when it comes to the bridesmaids behaving badly? I think it's the misplaced idea of not wanting to rankle its target audience, that women have a lower quotient for bad taste. Let's explore what happens in the lone sequences where Friedberg and Seltzer decide to indulge their R-rated crassness. The ladies kidnap the valet driver who they believe mugged them. Disguised in ski masks that can't help but trigger associations with Spring Breakers, they break into his home, strap him to his bed, and then one of the ladies eventually urinates on his face. And if that wasn't enough, she craps on him as well accidentally. Of all the directions this setup could have gone, a woman pooping on a man's face just seems lame, having to settle for cheap shock value over jokes. The end gives us our first glimpse of nudity, as the ladies stumble into the wrong hotel room on an amorous interracial couple. Incensed, the couple nude couple chases after them. The chief threat is an overweight black woman and, apparently, her overweight nude body is meant to be the outlandish joke. Oh look, a fat woman chasing after our characters! And so, her nudity is allowed because it's meant to be comical (visions of Borat dancing in my head). Like other sequences, this part is drawn out and exhausts whatever brittle comic potential it may have had. Then there's the lingering thought that the only minority characters in the movie are presented in states of undress, their nudity meant to serve as discomfort. I understand the sexy marketing hook of making a found footage movie, but does the entire film have to be stuck in this limited narrative constraint? Can a movie not just incorporate found footage elements but be free to break away on its own, like The Purge? Alas, Friedberg and Seltzer embark on found footage and can't even adequately maintain that guise, often failing to produce reasons for why their characters are still filming. First off, why would anyone just film themselves introducing who they are on a bachelorette voyage when, presumably, the only people watching it will be close friends? Then there's the pesky habit where people keep holding the camera out, framing all four ladies so carefully. Then there's the fact that the footage is seen rewinding and fast-forwarding, presenting sequences out of sequence, some with intertitles added for dates because having a date stamp for a recording wouldn't be good enough. So, the age old question, who did all this? Who added music to the sequences? Then there's the fact that later on the camera cuts to reaction shots and different angles in single scenes, completely destroying the illusion of being found footage. Why blur nudity in an R-rated movie in general, but even more so, if this is found footage, what hypocritical hypothetical editor is blurring certain nudity and letting other nudity pass? Nothing of substance or humor is added to this film by forcing the prism of found footage. Instead it only makes the characters dumber and less realistic than the one-note placeholders they already are. Let's talk about those characters. Comedies have a long history of putting together archetypes; take for instance The Hangover, a surefire inspiration for Friedberg and Seltzer. We've got the smarmy a-hole, the uptight straight guy, and the goofy nutball, all classic comic archetypes that can bounce off one another. With Best Night Ever we have... the... mother... the slutty one... the... actually it doesn't matter because the characters are so poorly written that they are indistinguishable. Not one of them has a personality or anything memorable to them. They're all one type: bland. The only way I was keeping track of who's who was by hair color, and even that is something of a challenge at times (two redheads?). Friedberg and Seltzer hastily throw in some "character details" for some, like one one just had her husband leave her for a man and another is a mother and has a breast pump. Okay, 1): why pump milk on a Vegas trip? Is that going to keep on the multi-hour car ride home? And 2): you'd expect with a detail like that there would be a later payoff.... Nope. Like most things in the movie, the details are just hastily thrown into the mix and readily discounted. I was morbidly curious what Friedberg and Seltzer would set their sights on when not cannibalizing pop-culture in their spoof movies, and now I know. Best Night Ever is just as inept a comedy as their previous spoof atrocities. It irritates me even more that Friedberg and Seltzer could have done any comedy they want, and this is what they delivered, a tacky and too often timid sex comedy that has far too many drawn out sequences in place of actual humor. I don't think found footage works in the context of comedies. It provides a sense of realism, and the long takes naturally build tension, but these aspects benefit the horror genre, not so much comedy. With comedy you still need to develop setups, complicate them, provide payoffs, and make sure to provide detours from the expected. There is nothing truly unexpected from this girls' night out, and the cheap jokes rarely build or alter, so the pained setup at the beginning of the scene remains the same by the end. The simple premise of a bachelorette party gone wrong is ripe with potential, a potential that will never see any flicker of life under the guise of Friedberg and Seltzer. I never thought I'd write this but these two can just go back to their spoofs. Of course the first request would be never to make another movie again. Nate's Grade: D-
Yap D (kr) wrote: Possibly the best love movie from HK for year 2012.
Mira Mohd S (au) wrote: I think I have proven my love for found footage films well enough over the years, by nearly watching everyone one of them which have been coming out over the course of the past 3 - 4 years. This time the man behind the revolution, Eduardo Sanchez (The Blair Witch Project), once again reunites himself and his crew deep into the woods. Instead of being attacked by a ghostly witch we never get to see, we are introduced to bigfoot. Well is the film great? Lets analyze. Well I have seen quite some big foot movies, the one which has hindered long in my memory has been Bigfoot: The Lost Coast Tapes (2012), but unlike this film the latter actually shows the monster. That could be a good or a bad thing, depending on the costumes and special effects used. While The Lost Coast Tapes did a great job while not showing the creature, and Exists does a good job showing it. There's not really much imagination needed when you think of what big foot looks like; tall, hairy, ape or man-like, seriously! Well the story is pretty cliche - There are five teens, the white leader, the black tough guy, the blonde, the smart girl, and the unlikable cameraman, who are at this cabin for some reason and nobody knows they are there. And then they mess with Bigfoot & get hunted down one by one. Sanchez has made sure the tone is kept pretty creepy, just like his previous one. `But unfortunately the movie left me more confused than entertained. What makes a found footage film great are the emotional weight and deep characters that give purpose to the surrounding action. That is exactly what is missing in Exists. It isn't necessarily a bad film, but its generic, an almost worse crime. The pace is kept pretty solid, but in order to get to the point, the film clearly misses an opportunity for any character development. As result, we don't care about who dies! The film lacks that raw ingredient that every film needs. The found footage only works in spots, and is glaringly misguided in others. The major crime the makers have committed, from the point of a found footage film is, at times they seems to forget about the POV standard as some cameras magically appear out of nowhere in the woods. Where did it come from? Whose camera was it? It's not logical, and it totally brings the film down. I actually found the style to be degrading to the quality of the movie. Sanchez has style and I wish he upped his game. Probably the only plus point for the film goes to Big foot himself/herself, which was terrifying & made to look just like they have been talked about! On the whole Exists in not a bad film, but its not great either, it lies somewhere in between as a passable affair, while people looking for jump scares wont be disappointed, found footage lovers will!
Tom D (fr) wrote: Good film, well made with good performances, and the story well told, but lacks a little something.
Danielle L (mx) wrote: Top five horror movies of all time! Great mind bang thriller! Must see! It'll make your jaw drop again... and again... and than at the end again. You have to pay attention to the movie, and watch it again after you discover what it's all about. It'll be completely different.
Ese C (de) wrote: i enjoyed the movie,funny good humor,interesting
Oscar S (ca) wrote: The leader can never close the gap between himself and the group. If he does, he is no longer what he must be. He must walk a tightrope between the consent he must win and the control he must exert. -- Vince Lombardi
Ty P (ca) wrote: Smart and entertaining, with Billy Bob Thornton playing his best performance to date at the time. John Cusack is annoying as usual, thought fits the character perfectly to show an amazing(yet over dramatic) look at the way we interpret ourselves and others. There is something quite buddhist about this film that really appealed to me.
Jeanie K (ru) wrote: Julian Sands is back for revenge as a Warlock and nobody is going to stop him this time. Cheesy with some creative deaths...this is as good or better then the first.
darryl c (it) wrote: fassbinder films usually leave me cold. but not fox and his friends. it is so well acted and well paced. and theyoung actor david kross remonds me very much of the lead in this film. the more yo look at him, the more you love him.
Ryan C (us) wrote: This is a favorite of mine. A direct sequel to Godzilla vs Mechagodzilla, this one does not mess around. It's very dark and serious but very very good. It's not quite as good but its almost as good as the one before it. You've gotta check it out.
Danamel C (es) wrote: One of my favorite cartoons when I was a kid.
Naoya K (jp) wrote: I love this film too much to talk about. It's just part of my life. One thing, if I say, is that this film is so powerful that wearing a suit to go to the space looks nothing but cool.
Jonathon P (nl) wrote: Read the book!! It's a story of faith, struggling, doubts, joy, and realizing what do you think?
Phil M (gb) wrote: Simply a perfect movie. Acting, script, soundtrack, and cinematography all on point.