Part of me just wants to keep chanting the mantra of ""Shawn Levy directed The Pink Panther, Shawn Levy directed both Night at the Museum movies"" as a warning sign, but I already know that seeing his latest film Date Night is a foregone conclusion for me. And that's not just because I love Tina Fey and Steve Carell, either. Oh, I'm sure they'll be a great pair on the big screen, but my ticket is pre-sold on my strange fascination with movies that take place over the course of a single night. I don't specifically know what it is about movies of this sort that I fall for, but I can't help but get at least a little excited when I know a writer is playing around with a limited time frame. I blame these ten movies, which I consider to be the more playful single-night movies out there.
Now please keep in mind that I in no way think that these are the best single-night films (after all, The 25th Hour isn't on the list); these are just ones that I think are a lot of fun (which is what I'm hoping Date Night will turn out to be).
10. Murder Party
I didn't realize how much I liked the 2007 indie horror comedy Murder Party until I recently saw The Final, one of the entries in After Dark Film's Horrorfest 4. Now I'm not saying that The Final is an intentional rip off of Murder Party - the two have wildly different plots, the latter being about a group of artists who lure in an unsuspecting nobody to a Halloween party with the intent of murdering him in the most artistic way possible - but it's serious take on costumed killers who torture those they can ensnare isn't nearly as fun as the places MP goes. Plus, it's kind of hard to not like a movie whose hero is dressed up as a cardboard knight the entire time people are trying to kill him.
9. Inside Man
Not a lot of heist movies take place over the course of a single day. Normally we get to see the prep and planning stages of the robbery; not with Inside Man. Spike Lee's most enjoyable movie in decades actually banks on not telling the audience what's going on and that is precisely why the movie is such a captivating mystery to figure out. Technically it doesn't all take place on a single night, but considering the bulk of the movie does, I'm willing to bend the rules.
I think Go holds a special place in the hearts of a lot of people my age and they don't even realize that it's primarily because it's a single-night story. We've all had that one crazy party night where it seemed like every thread of the night could take you to a brand new adventure and Doug Liman recreates that wonderfully by jumbling up the narrative chronology. Go kicks ass as both a black comedy and as Pulp Fiction: The Next Generation (nothing wrong with wearing your influences on your sleeve.)
Speaking of movies that hold a special place, Clerks resides firmly in the hearts of an entire generation. Not even the fountain of bullshit that's been spewing out of Kevin Smith's Twitter account lately can taint how damned funny Clerks is. It doesn't exactly take place over the course of a night, but it's still a single 24-hour window. Clerks is also a great benchmark for how to keep escalating the events of the crazy-day script, because, really, even though it takes place predominantly in a video store, what happens to Dante on the day he wasn't even supposed to be there is as memorable, if not more so, than a lot of the bigger films on this list.
And speaking of big films, I absolutely love Michael Mann's Collateral. Every time I need a reminder that Tom Cruise can be a total bad ass on the big screen, I just think of this movie. I think of that gray hair, that suit, and that crazy night he forces a lowly cab driver to partake in. This is probably one of the more serious films on the list, but that doesn't stop it from also being an absolute blast time after time.
5. From Dusk Till Dawn
I wish 1990s Robert Rodriguez hadn't been killed and replaced by 2000s Robert Rodriguez. I miss the days when you instantly associated his name with bold indie films and not CGI extravaganzas made for his kids. What happened to us, his cinematic spawn? Do we not deserve more original movies like From Dusk Till Dawn? We'd be spoiled as fans if his entire filmography was all about starting new, R-rated film franchises. I suppose we need the Sharkboys and Lavagirls of the world to remind us of a better time, of a time when George Clooney played characters with tattoos and an obvious disdain for those around them (particularly if they were of the vampire persuasion).
4. Dead End
There's no reason to put off laying it out there: I know full well that I like Dead End more than anyone I know, though that's not very surprising considering most people have not even heard of Dead End yet alone seen it. It's about a family whose Christmas road trip finds them on a never ending and inescapable stretch of high way. Ray Wise and Lin Shaye are fantastic in it, then again, it's impossible to name any role Ray Wise is bad in. And while I'd recommend their long night's journey based on the actors alone, Dead End is actually kind of a creepy little movie.
I hate to keep the streak of single-night horror movies going, particularly with one that is in no way, shape, or form comedic (unlike the previous two films), but I just love this Spanish bit of cinema verite too much to avoid mentioning it. If you haven't already seen the American remake, Quarantine, I beg that you rent the original instead.Considering the remake is identical enough that the script was probably just passed through a Google Spanish-to-English translator, that should tell you just how effective the original film is.
2. 13: Game of Death
I normally sympathize with the anti-remake war cry, but part of me really wishes that The Weinstein Company would actually get a remake of the Thai dark comedy/thriller 13: Game of Death off the ground.I think Americans would eat up a story about a Joe Schmoe office worker who blows off his job because an anonymous voice on the other end of his cell phone tells him that if he completes the 13 tasks ahead of him, he'll receive enough money to solve all of his problems. Naturally things don't exactly go as planned and 13: Game of Death becomes consumed by a great, drive-like-a-madman attitude that proves to be an addicting watch.
1. Four Rooms
The numbering of this Top Ten list is largely inconsequential. The only placement that really mattered to me was number one and it was always going to be Four Rooms. This directorial omnibus has got everything the single-night movie needs: a cohesive storyline (bell hop must attend to the needs of his hotel's residents on New Year's Eve), a great cast (Tim Roth, Antonio Banderas, Marisa Tomei, and Quentin Tarantino, to just name a few), an admirable sense of how to keep one-upping itself as it goes along, anda definitive deadline (New Year's Day). What more could you ask for? A coven of witches, a dead hooker, and the threat of severed limbs? Oh, Four Rooms has got all of those, too.