Riding around Hollywood in a stretch limousine with actresses Crista Flanagan, Samantha Colburn, Desiree Hall and Eddie Ritchard, it seems oddly appropriate, almost fated, that a hitch truck with a single, upright port-a-potty — almost posed, in glorious artistic exhibit — pulls up next to us at a stoplight. After all, the women of “Best Night Ever” — a debauched road trip movie which finds a bride-to-be and her three friends descending upon Las Vegas — grapple with unwanted bodily excretions, Jello wrestling and much more in the film, opening in theaters this week. (They also get kicked out of strip clubs, get mugged, kidnap a valet, get boozy, take drugs and croon some 4 Non Blondes, for good measure.) For ShockYa, Brent Simon recently had the chance to catch up with the ladies, and talk with them about women’s relationship to scatological humor, cupcakes and strip clubs, and what they really think of Las Vegas. The conversation is excerpted below:

ShockYa: When you’re thrown together like this in a movie that’s so wild and over-the-top, are there any special tricks to establishing the sort of chemistry needed to portray lifelong friends, and really ground the material?

Desiree Hall: We met a little bit before the movie started shooting and spent time together then. Maybe it was meant to be, because we all bonded fairly quickly and genuinely like one another.

Samantha Colburn: I think there’s something inherent within actors. If you’re theater-trained or whatever, we’re used to just going from cast to cast. So we can just kind of latch on and bond really fast, for better and worse.

Eddie Ritchard: Because you want it to work. I think if you don’t bond quickly you’re often defeating the whole purpose of trying to make the best film. And I think one of the things that helped us was the first night of shooting we got to do the rave scene, so — not that there’s too much serious stuff going on in this movie — we didn’t have to worry about any big emotional scene {cross-talk and laughter}, we basically just got to be idiots. That was a really great way to get introduced to each other for a six- or five-week shoot or whatever, getting to know each other on a really out-of-world level.

Desiree Hall: And I think because it was a comedy it was different too — we could keep things light and joke around and tell stories between set-ups.

Eddie Ritchard: No one really went to their trailers and prepared their lines.

ShockYa: Were any of you ever considered the “funny girl” growing up?

Crista Flanagan: {as others look and point at her} Well, I think I didn’t know I was funny. People laughed at me —

Samantha Colburn: Not with you.

Crista Flanagan: — but it was always by accident for a long time. I was just weird as a kid, I was intense.

ShockYa: Brian Lowry, “Variety”‘s television critic, recently wrote a terrifically condescending pan of Sarah Silverman’s comedy special “We Are Miracles.” He seemed to take issue with her use of scatological humor, and the language. What’s your impression of, say, the arc of scatological humor in female-driven big screen comedies?

Crista Flanagan: {amidst laughter} Yes, we have a bit of that, don’t we?

Desiree Hall: I think poop jokes are hilarious, and toilet humor too. It’s all my dad’s fault. My dad is a giant child who thinks that toilet humor is hysterical, so growing up he would laugh at farts and poop and whatever, so it’s in my DNA or something. My husband thinks it’s so weird. He’s like, “No one would ever guess that you think that is funny.”

Crista Flanagan: With our [movie], I never thought of anything in terms of women or men. I just thought, “Okay, if I take five pills and I try to pee on a guy and somebody scares me and I have a shaky tummy I could poop on someone.” I just think about what’s happening in the situation, not [whether] girls would be in this situation. You just go with it.

Desiree Hall: Because believe it or not, girls do poop, unfortunately.

Crista Flanagan: And girls do drugs. Girls poop, and girls do drugs.

Eddie Ritchard: And when you put those two together, you have “Best Night Ever”!

Samantha Colburn: We have a new logline! {laughter}

ShockYa: Crista, you’ve worked with (writer-directors) Jason (Friedberg) and Aaron (Seltzer) before, so was there any shorthand or leaning curve assistance you provided the rest of the cast?

Eddie Ritchard: I had not met them until rehearsals, actually. I got cast in New York, so I had only had Skype and phone calls.

Crista Flanagan: And this was my fifth movie with them. There was a lot of [the other women] saying, “Are they okay? Do they like this? What’s happening now?”

Samantha Colburn: “What does that face mean?”

Crista Flanagan: Exactly.

Samantha Colburn: I took a little bit of a lead from [Crista], though. I was like, “Okay, you trust them.”

Eddie Ritchard: Exactly. To have someone who’d worked with them so many times, and not doing risky material, really, but asking us to go there — it’s nice to have someone whose work I know and respect having that lead as an ensemble.

Desiree Hall: It was funny for me, because I recognized who they were when I got the audition, and I did have the expectation when I went in for the callback that it was going to be jokey fun or something, but they’re actually quite serious when they’re working {cross-talk, agreement}, they are very specific and know exactly what they want. And I think there was a trust that developed immediately because they did approach it from a very serious and professional place.

Eddie Ritchard: And this movie is like their little baby in a way. It’s not like their other films, in the sense that it’s new characters, and not necessarily with another idea in mind. I think they wanted to create something from scratch with the talent that they have already got. And that was wonderful, to have them lead us down this rabbit hole — everyone holding hands and knowing that we’re all going to make it to the other side.

Crista Flanagan: And sometimes it can be tricky if you’ve never worked with two directors before, because they’re directing together. That doesn’t mean that two people are talking at you. It just means there’s an extra step — they’re going to talk to each other before they come to us. You have to let that happen.

Desiree Hall: I was actually surprised by that actually, because they never contradicted one another. They knew exactly what wanted. And if Aaron wasn’t available and you asked Jason what he meant, he’d be able to answer and it was right.

Eddie Ritchard: They’re really strong as a team.

Crista Flanagan: There’s really only one brain between the two of them. {laughs}

Samantha Colburn: Wait a second, don’t say that! (laughter, cross-talk}

Crista Flanagan: They want to hear that they have two hundred percent!

ShockYa: Was there process any different on this movie, since it’s not rooted in directly referential material, as a spoof or send-up?

Crista Flanagan: The other four movies that I did with Jason and Aaron, the budgets are bigger, the sets are bigger, everything is scripted out. It’s very traditional, the way we shoot those movies. And then on this movie, it’s found footage, interacting with a lot of non-actors — you’re dealing with people in Vegas, and completely different. Those guys are the same, but it was guerrilla-style shooting.

ShockYa: Mentioning the found footage angle, was it fairly sketched out who was going to be the camera custodian in each given scene?

Eddie Ritchard: With the characters, yes, it was very detailed, but not with actually operating the camera, though, because we actually had a DP. So we shuffled around with Shawn (Maurer, the cinematographer) the entire time. But with respect to the linear notion of the story and how this was found, it was very clear — we always knew, “Okay, [this character] has the camera, now she’s got it, and now she’s got it.” And Zoe is the instigator in terms of capturing all this debauchery, so I was a lot of the time with camera. There was only one time when I got to run around with the camera without any help, in the convenience store, but otherwise —

Samantha Colburn: And with your head out the window.

Eddie Ritchard: Oh, that’s right, that too. They were like, “Don’t drop it, we need that camera.” So I said, “Okay, can we please gaffer tape this to my hand?”

Samantha Colburn: It was different from an acting perspective because you didn’t really know what the set-up was, and you couldn’t visualize what it was going to look like. So again, we just had to have so much faith and trust in the directors, and it was such a surprise when we finally got to see it because you we really had no idea (what it would look like). You didn’t necessarily know if and when you were on camera in certain scenes.

ShockYa: Crista, you mentioned the interaction with non-professionals. The film’s scavenger hunt material on the Strip has an element of performance art, and must have yielded some interesting moments.

Eddie Ritchard: Or dangerous moments.

ShockYa: There was some old man tickling, if I recall.

All: Yeah! {laughter}

Eddie Ritchard: To make him laugh was actually kind of challenging. He was actually a little grumpy. We had some interesting moments — these guys have all got one [incident] were they were tackled or tripped or something crazy.

Samantha Colburn: Yeah, a lot of the interactions that were the craziest actually didn’t make it. I got tackled when we were running, and someone purposefully tripped Des. And people got harassed and screamed at while we were dancing.

Desiree Hall: You know, we were having such a fun time that I think we sort of assumed everyone else was having a fun time as well, and there were some people that were not having a good time.

Eddie Ritchard: Yeah, people are angry when they’re drunk, sometimes. Especially at 2 a.m. in the morning — they’re just doing they’re own thing, and we might have gotten in their way. And they made that clear that we were, on occasion.

Samantha Colburn: One of the toughest things was when we gave out free doughnuts, and nobody wanted them. They were like, “What is happening here?” They didn’t mind us running around screaming, stealing alcohol, strutting like a chicken, but giving out free doughnuts in Las Vegas —

Desiree Hall: They kind of didn’t like me strutting like a chicken, actually. I got the stink eye for that.

Crista Flanagan: And there was a scene where we did a dance, and a woman ran up in my face and said, “I’m gonna kick your ass!” And I was like, “Why? I’m dancing!” {cross-talk and laughter}

Desiree Hall: Yeah, that woman was like a barnacle, because she was all up on Crista and moving with her, and wouldn’t leave her alone.

Samantha Colburn: It wasn’t like we locked down the Strip or anything. It was very loose on purpose, so all of that was a very different experience.

ShockYa: So what’s your honest opinion of Las Vegas?

Eddie Ritchard: Fremont Street is different than the other Vegas. We were spoiled when we walked into the very nice hotels and then went to our other shooting hotel and were like, “Oh, this carpet has seen some fun, and now I have to sit on it.”

Desiree Hall: What I’ve discovered about Vegas is that it makes all the difference who you go with. If you go with a group of people with whom you genuinely enjoy spending time, and everybody gets along, then whatever you’re doing it’s great. If you go because someone is dragging you there then it’s not very fun.

Samantha Colburn: There is something different about Vegas, though, where people let down their walls. And things they would never do back in Missouri are coming out in Vegas, for better and for worse.

Crista Flanagan: I would recommend going with a plan. Go and play the games, do the sky-diving, go ride the roller coaster.

ShockYa: Everyone associates male bachelor parties with a certain amount of debauchery, but where do you stand on wild-and-crazy female bachelorette parties? Is that an emerging trend, in your opinion, or amongst your friends?

Crista Flanagan: I love both. I love a nice baby shower with cupcakes, and then I like a strip club where people are out of their minds.

Samantha Colburn: With cupcakes? {laughter}

Crista Flanagan: I think there’s a real spectrum there — it’s all grey area, so have fun in the grey. I like the spectrum of experiences. Girls doing girl things and guys doing guy things — I just don’t see it that way.

Samantha Colburn: I mean, guys can go have high tea for a bachelor party, things are changing.

Crista Flanagan: Guys like cupcakes. {cross-talk, laughter}

ShockYa: Absolutely. I crush cupcakes.

Crista Flanagan: If you see a movie with guys eating cupcakes, nobody’s going to say anything.

ShockYa: In a movie? Someone would probably say something. {cross-talk, laughter}

Samantha Colburn: There are some gender barriers left.

Eddie Ritchard: I feel like: bit of column A, bit of column B, you know? If you only have column A, things can get a bit boring.

Desiree Hall: I say everyone do it all!

Samantha Colburn: So we have an afternoon tea with strippers. And cupcakes. {laughter}

NOTE: “Best Night Ever” opens this week in theaters. In addition to its theatrical engagements, the movie is also available on iTunes and across various VOD platforms. To watch the film’s red-band trailer, click here: http://youtu.be/nzOFyPyP5Mc

Written by: Brent Simon

best night ever

By Brent Simon

A graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Brent Simon is a three-term president of LAFCA, a contributor to Screen International, Newsweek Japan, Magill's Cinema Annual, and many other outlets. He cannot abide a world without U2 and tacos.

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