Mean Girls meets The Hangover in Penelope Lawson’s second feature length film 1 Night in San Diego.
Starring Jenna Ushkowitz and Laura Ashley Samuels, the film follows Hannah (Ushkowitz) and Brooklyn (Samuels), two best friends who have recently packed up their lives and moved across the country to live in the Hollywood Hills. Despite both girls having a meager claim to fame — Hannah being a former reality star and Brooklyn a social media influencer with only six thousand followers— neither one of them have had much luck snagging decent jobs or decent relationships. Feeling restless and desperate due to her status as a single woman, Brooklyn signs up for a dating app that matches her with their old high school P.E. coach Christian (Mark Lawson); he invites her to come out to San Diego and meet him, and she invites Hannah to drive her there.
After checking in at a sketchy motel, the girls head to a rundown local theatre where Christian has a role in a parody knockoff musical of Law and Order, planning to meet up with him after the show. When the coach-turned-wannabe-actor turns out to be a dead-end hookup-wise, the girls are left alone. All dressed up and nowhere to go, they decide to make the most of their time in the city and spend the rest of the night partying. At a local bar, the two friends run into Kelsey (Alexandra Daddario) and Delia (Kelsey Douglas) who are big fans of Hannah’s reality show. The four girls end up bar hopping downtown, but when a local bartender who Kelsey likes hits on Brooklyn instead, a catfight breaks out. Hannah and Brooklyn leave, getting into all sorts of stupid, drunken shenanigans in the hopes of enjoying a couple of hours of carefree, unrestricted fun.
1 Night in San Diego is a raunchy, nonsensical film that leaves the equivalent of a bitter aftertaste in one’s mouth. The dynamics between the two leads is caddy and loud, reminiscent of the typical mean girls portrayed in most high school films. ‘Fake’, seems to be the appropriate and only word that comes to mind while watching; genuineness is all but irrelevant and the absence of such an entity is wildly noticeable in everything that happens on screen. Hannah and Brooklyn’s characterisation is one-dimensional, and their chemistry is founded on insults, complaining and mutual living arrangements. They are unlikeable, and none of the secondary characters who are introduced are any better.
Overall, the acting is subpar, though it may be argued that the juvenile nature of the script brings forth such poor performances from the cast. Perhaps thirty to forty minutes into the film, Hannah remarks “Who writes this shit?” regarding the ridiculously abysmal musical, and it is a shame that the same sentiment can extend to the entirety of Lawson’s flick. There really is no point in a large majority of the action that happens; it seems that all sorts of bawdy randomness is jam-packed into the plot in order to increase the runtime.
The best part of the whole piece is the Californian setting itself, though the beauty of such a place is reserved for the opening credits. Hopefully Lawson’s next work will strive to encapsulate such important puzzle pieces as opposed to throwing them aside in favor of gaudy clothes and foul mouths.
1 Night in San Diego is available on VOD now
by Kacy Hogg
Kacy is an English Lit student living in the Great White North (no not Winterfell unfortunately), Canada. Her favourite films include the Harry Potter series, Cinderella, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, The Hangover, and Lady Bird. She’s also an avid binge-watcher of Game of Thrones and The Walking Dead. You can follow her on Twitter here: @KacHogg95