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Review: Rough Night

Rough Night
06.15.2017
6 10

Rough Night movie review Scarlett Johansson Kate McKinnon

PLOT: The fun times of a group of longtime friends who've gotten together for a bachelorette party in Miami come to an end when they must deal with a shocking accident.

REVIEW: ROUGH NIGHT feels just like what it is: a watered down, studio-mandated version of a supremely promising movie. There's a really morbidly dark, funny movie living within it that itches to get out, but the constraints of a "let's not get too crazy" mindset (no doubt imposed by nervous executives) are always apparent, as the movie struggles mightily with how to make its deeply f*cked up storyline both funny and palatable. This issue aside, the film's stars are supremely likable, and there are just enough winning moments to allow you to walk away from ROUGH NIGHT feeling OK about your time with it.

The film is essentially a female-driven take on VERY BAD THINGS, with sprinkles of THE HANGOVER and BACHELOR PARTY mixed in for added irreverent flavor. (And if you want zero spoilers, now is the time to take off.) A quintet of women go nuts celebrating the impending marriage of Jess (Scarlett Johansson) in Miami after a few years apart. They break down into easily identifiable categories: Jess is conservative and focusing on her political career; Alice (Jillian Bell) lives in the past and wants to party; Blair (Zoe Kravitz) is rich and snobby; Frankie (Ilana Glazer) is a hyper-liberal protester; and Pippa (Kate McKinnon) is foreign, hence funny because of the drawn-out accent and cultural differences. Coming together for a bachelorette party in Miami, the ladies appear poised to enjoy a raucous weekend in ways that would make most people blush.

Rough Night movie review Scarlett Johansson Kate McKinnon

This section of the movie is pretty funny: Frankie almost immediately buys coke off a busboy and before you know it the girls are high out of their minds and making bad decisions. Naturally, a stripper is called, and seemingly arrives in the form of a creepy dude (Ryan Cooper) who is barely there for a minute before Alice jumps on him, knocks him over, and kills him accidentally. Yes, now the girls have a corpse on their hands, and the rest of the film revolves around their attempts to reconcile this fact while attempting to figure out how to hide/get rid of the corpse so they won't have to deal with the consequences of their mistake.

I have no problem with a movie making light of such a situation, and if you look closely enough at the movie it becomes clear that these characters - coked up or not - are making inexcusable decisions. There's a chance for some pretty ballsy hilarity here. Unfortunately, the movie never really feels like it's swinging for the fences; not in terms of milking this tragic scenario for the wicked laughs it should, nor in making the characters seem like real humans deliberating a major crises. It's a silly comedy, of course, so one shouldn't look for deep meaning in any of this, but there's such a sitcom-y vibe to the proceedings that the gravity of the mess they're in never moved me. Added to that, many of the one-liners are fairly pedestrian, especially disappointing because the film's writer-director team of Lucia Aniello and Paul W. Downs are "Broad City" writers and producers, and that show is far more daring and uproarious than anything in ROUGH NIGHT.

There are also a couple of subplots that don't really provoke the laughs they should: one involves a couple of horny next door neighbors (played by Ty Burrell and Demi Moore) that seems shoehorned in and, like everything else, restrained in order to not make things too weird. Their antics are simply not very amusing, even if both actors are game. The other involves Jess' fiance (Downs) becoming concerned he's not hearing from his beloved and embarking on an epic drive from NY to Miami to find out what's happening. Downs is excellent on "Broad City" and has one or two fine moments here, but once again there isn't a whole lot about these bits that thoroughly work.

The movie truly lives and dies (pun intended) with its main cast, however, and they're so engaging that the sins of the screenplay are mostly forgiven. Johansson is completely perfect, delivering a winsome performance that capitalizes on her movie star persona and her adeptness at silly comedy. Bell is the other true standout; she's been great in TV stuff like "Workaholics" but ROUGH NIGHT allows her to absolutely shine and prove herself a top-notch comedic presence. McKinnon is her gloriously unhinged self, and though the script mostly relies on the character's Aussie nationality to generate laughs, the actress is so charming that you have to smile at her antics. Kravitz has a few good moments as well, and Glazer just makes me smile no matter what she's doing. (To be fair, her talents are the most underutilized in the film.)

ROUGH NIGHT isn't all that it could've or should've been, in my mind, but it still makes for an agreeably diverting comedy that gets by thanks to a superb assemblage ensemble of funny women and a handful of inspired gags.

Source: JoBlo.com

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