What writer/director Lawson does right is to inject new life into the familiar story and bring a sense of grounded realism to the comedic moments. She has a keen understanding of Southern California culture. The misadventure starts right away when the ladies need to rent a car because they either didn’t bring one with them from New Jersey or never had one in the first place. The road trip ends as soon as it begins, as San Diego is a less than a two-hour drive from L.A.
The rest of the film plays out with Hanna and Brooklyn running into an assortment of fun, odd characters that only Southern California can provide. Strangely, none of them are actually from So Cal, which is very So Cal. Plus, there are great cameos from Alexandra Daddario and Kelsey Douglas as Hanna’s friends from high school.
I should point out the movie’s highlight for me was the play starring Christian entitled “Law and Justice: SVU—A Musical Parody.” Hold onto your seatbelts for this one. It reminded me of the ending to Waiting for Guffman.
“Their chemistry is perfect as best friends and new Southern California transplants.”
What I like about 1 Night In San Diego is that it’s a comedy that is wacky enough not to become a wacky comedy. What I mean is it manages to stay just grounded enough to feel absurdly real. Having lived in Southern California all my life and spent extensive time in San Diego, every character and situation rings true. I’ve actually stayed in several hotels/motels in San Diego like the one Hanna and Brooklyn stayed in — sort of vomit-chic. I performed almost weekly at a small theater near Old Town.
Jenna Ushkowitz and Lauren Ashley Samuels are a joy to watch on screen. Their chemistry is perfect as best friends and new Southern California transplants. They start as fish-out-of-water awkward but seem to adjust quite fine. Both are likable and could easily be the friends we hang out with when looking for something new and odd to do on a boring weekend.
1 Night In San Diego falls squarely into the fun category. It’s two ladies going away for the weekend, shifting from one insane escapade to the next. There’s no drug dealer they’re running from or lost satchel of money. It’s a strange weekend road trip that you or I could accidentally stumble across. It will provide a much-needed break from the insanity of life we’re living in now.
"…highlight for me was the play...'Law and Justice: SVU—A Musical Parody'"