I freaking love movies that take place over one night – the kind where the characters go to some fantastic par-tay, or experience a series of crazy twists and turns that transform their otherwise ordinary evening into a life-altering event. Whatever the circumstance, they always emerge the following day, irrevocably changed for the better. You know what I’m talking about. The kind of movie where the final scene is a description of what happened to each character after the credits roll. The kind of movie where you feel like you’re really along for the ride; I swear I can feel the time passing, like I’m spending the night with these people. I decided to make a list of these films, because they float in and out of my consciousness whenever discussing this topic with others, and I need a concrete place for them all to live. In no particular order:
- American Graffiti: This has to be one of the first “party all night before heading off to college the next day” movies (does this actually happen, though? I remember wanting to get a good night’s sleep before the next phase of my life began. LAME.), and holy-I-can’t-believe-Richard-Dreyfuss-was-ever-that-young is it great. My high school history teacher showed us this one day, and I just remember loving the shit out of it. My 16-year old self actually went and bought the soundtrack. It’s like Grease, but better. It’s kinda magical.
- Go: Such insanity, such a twisty plot that all connects at the end, such a raaaaandom cast — Sarah Polley, Scott Wolf, Katie Holmes, Timothy Olymphant (!). I also love when kids think they’re getting high, but are really eating Ginkgo biloba.
- Can’t Hardly Wait: Maybe it’s because this came out around the time I was graduating, maybe it’s because Ethan Embry is adorable, or Kenny Fisher was one of the funniest things I had ever seen, but I think this movie struck a chord with most of my generation. Sure it’s stupid, but it’s relatable. Everybody can pick out at least one character from Huntington Hills High they identify with. Sadly, I’d be a mix of Lauren Ambrose’s Denise and Charlie Korsmo’s William. Misunderstood chick and nerd, respectively. I definitely shot my drink out a nostril when the dorks on the garage roof told William that he resembled David Duchovny.
- Sixteen Candles: Ahhh, there’s nothing quite like John Hughes comfort. And while Ferris Bueller and Breakfast Club both take place over one day, I’m listing movies that end the NEXT day. So step off. Among it’s many charms: a fetal John Cusack AND the normal cute girl landing the hot popular jock.
- Last Chance Harvey: It’s London-sightseeing porn with Emma Thompson, what more could you want? Actually, this film will give you more. It’s a quiet, sad, hopeful, wonderful little story of two very different people who end up randomly spending the night roaming through the city that made me laugh, cry, and sigh.
- 25th Hour: Edward Norton.
- Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist: Awesome soundtrack, funky premise of roaming the city, listening for clues to find out where your favorite band is playing. The cast is made up of kids you wish you were friends with, including Ari Graynor, who steals every single scene she’s in. She managed to make picking gum out of a toilet full of vomit kind of adorable, and that’s a feat I doubt many could accomplish.
- Grosse Pointe Blank: Having always wished I went to high school in the 80s, I adore movies about high school in the 80s, or high school reunions reminiscing about the 80s. This has just that, along with a funny, bizarre premise, a great soundtrack, and the massively appealing John Cusack, who somehow defies the laws of time and space by getting hotter with every year that he is alive.
Honorable Mention: Wonderboys. I’d rank this as number one if I was ranking, and if it was actually over one night, instead of a weekend, but ohmygod is this movie fantastic. Never have I felt a Friday afternoon to Sunday so strongly as when I’m watching this movie. Every day of the week has a distinct “feeling”, and this movie nails all three. Plus it’s just a damn fantastic film.