Film Review: ROUGH NIGHT Have Woman Doing Very Badly Things
Splashlorians, first, here is the synopsis for Rough Night:
Five best friends (Scarlett Johansson, Jillian Bell, Zoë Kravitz, Ilana Glazer, Kate McKinnon) from college reunite 10 years later for a wild bachelorette weekend in Miami. Their hard partying takes a hilariously dark turn when they accidentally kill a male stripper. Amid the craziness of trying to cover it up, they’re ultimately brought closer together when it matters most.
We’re going to start with a positive statement. Ilana Glazer can almost do no wrong. Having said that, Rough Night was a better when they called it Very Bad Things in 1998. Perhaps writers Paul W. Downs and Lucia Aniello (also directed the movie) thought 20 years the appropriate time to recycle a premise and add women. That seems to be a popular formula these days. And, since it feels like we are in a Femaissance, this behavior seems to derail the talents of some truly gifted women. One of the things that made Bridesmaids so great was it was fresh. Yes, it was raunchy too, but they crafted something new and those actresses shined. Ghostbusters, Rough Night, Ocean’s 8… but, let’s address the pieces of this film that just don’t sing.
Scarlett Johansson plays Jess, a politician set to be married and close to losing a state senate race. Behind every politician beats the heart of a wild person waiting to break loose. At least, that’s what every conventional film would have us believe. Thank goodness Jess’ friends are such a hoot. That was sarcasm, just in case anyone got excited.
Kate McKinnon is on a roll lately, and those who love what she does will certainly love her as Pippa. If you’re one of the few that scratch your head and wonder what all the fuss is about (raises hand), you’ll continue to sit at the lonely table in the cafeteria. McKinnon almost feels like the star of the film, which is a move that makes all the sense in the world. Though, to her credit, Johansson has comedic chops. We saw a hint of it via The Black Widow, but it’s interesting to see how far she’s come over the years. Kravitz as Blair has an especially funny scene with Demi Moore and Ty Burrell. But, at one point in the film, “would it kill them to have two black friends?” ran through this viewer’s head. In this age of empowerment, it’s still four-to-one? Something doesn’t smell right about that in 2017.
Look, this shouldn’t come across totally negative, but with a cast like this expectations were a little high. Also, Broad City is incredible. Why mention Broad City? Because Downs and Aniello are creative talent behind said show. This was to be a victory lap for them, and call it bias, but there is no pleasure in stating that Rough Night is a missed opportunity. There are certainly laughs to be had, but often they rely on shock. Sadly, the shock would’ve been there had this film been more original. Had this been closer to The Sweetest Thing (what’s up 2002?) the raunch humor might have come across with more heart. But, then again, that would be stealing from another movie that’s almost 20 years old… wouldn’t it?
Rough Night is the first R-Rated Comedy directed by a woman in nearly 20 years. But, what about its character development? It feels difficult to care about this group of friends. Sure, they make us smile, but if something happened to one of them we wouldn’t cry. Well, Jillian Bell might get a tear drop as Alice, but Bell is a wonder to behold. She’s just too likable.
Without beating the Very Bad Things horse to death, Rough Night hits familiar beats but audiences won’t be caught off-guard. If The Hangover had not come out, this gross out film might be kicking open new doors. But, the ladies are walking in old footsteps, and it’s disappointing. The actresses in the film are capable of great performances, and bless their hearts for trying to make lemonade. What we end up with is an “okay” comedy if it’s Sunday afternoon and laundry needs to be done. Short of that, you may want to ask yourself this question before heading to the theater. “Is Bridesmaids available on any streaming service?”
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