Released June 16, 2017
Rated R (Sexual Content, Crude Humor, Language, Drug Use, Brief Bloody Images)
Directed, Written, and Produced by Lucia Aniello (Broad City, Time Traveling Bong)
Also Written by, Produced by, and also Starring Paul W. Downs (Broad City, Time Traveling Bong)
Cinematography by Sean Porter (Green Room, 20th Century Women)
Music by Dominic Lewis (Money Monster, Fist Fight)
Edited by Craig Alpert (Pineapple Express, Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping)
Also Produced by Dave Becky (Broad City, Master of None) and Matthew Tolmach (The Amazing Spider-Man, The Armstrong Lie)
Starring Scarlett Johansson (The Prestige, The Avengers), Jillian Bell (22 Jump Street, Office Christmas Party), Kate McKinnon (Saturday Night Live, Masterminds), Ilana Glazer (Broad City, The Night Before), Zoë Kravitz (X-Men: First Class, Mad Max: Fury Road), Ty Burrell (The Incredible Hulk, Modern Family), and Demi Moore (A Few Good Men, Mr. Brooks)
Disclaimer: I might as well acknowledge that I am not in Rough Night‘s target audience. I’m sure the filmmakers envisioned groups of women getting together with their girlfriends to go see this, and I’m sure they were going for the demographic of such movies as Bridesmaids and The Heat. That’s not to say guys shouldn’t see movies like this, as I have personally enjoyed many of them. It’s just that I’m not the intended audience.
Maybe Sony shouldn’t have released Rough Night while Wonder Woman was still playing in theaters.
I say that because Rough Night doesn’t seem to be doing too well at the box office, probably due to the female crowd wanting to watch or re-watch Princess Diana kick German and Greek god butt alongside Chris Pine. Which is a little bit of a shame, because, ladies, if you’re looking for a movie to just have fun at with your girlfriends, this is a pretty decent choice, and definitely better than average for these sorts of flicks. It’s legitimately funny and features a cast that really sell a sisterhood bond with each other.
As seems to be a recurring theme lately, perhaps another reason it’s not selling well is that the trailers make it out to be a raunchy party movie. In reality, it is raunchy but not necessarily a party movie. In fact, it gets kinda dark and kinda weird. Not too dark or too weird, mind you. This is a mainstream effort, after all. But its certainly quirkier than the trailers are selling. The partying is probably only a fourth of the actual film.
So the story goes like this:
(By the way, I won’t be putting any spoilers at all in here, because my wife wished that I wouldn’t have told her beforehand a certain thing that happens that was revealed by the trailers, and one of her friends who saw the movie with us didn’t know this thing was going to be in the movie, and I think she was glad she didn’t. Now, if that sentence wasn’t confusing at all, let’s continue!)
Way back in college, four girls – Jess (Johansson), Alice (Bell), Blair (Kravitz), and Frankie (Glazer) – used to always hang out and party together. They always promised each other they would stay together after graduation, but life happens, as we all know, and they drift apart. After a few years, though, the four decide to get together for one (last?) hurrah, Jess’s bachelorette party, before she marries her doting fiancé, Peter (Downs).
Alice, the planner of the group and the par-for-the-course jealous friend, schedules everything down to the minute and insists this will be the night of their lives. But what neither she nor the other three expect are the trials and tribulations that lay ahead of them: Alice’s jealousy of Jess’s new good friend and Australian, Pippa (McKinnon); a sex-crazed, middle-aged, experimental, Fleetwood Mac-loving couple next door to the bachelorette party’s beach house; a never-ending parade of strippers, gigolos, and criminals; lawyers; telling security cameras that could hurt Jess’s political career, along with all their lives; nosy cops; vehicle accidents; and an extremely unfortunate mishap that comes at the worst of times.
During of all this, Peter, by chance, gets worried that Jess doesn’t want to marry him anymore, and so he sets out on a quest of his own to win back his one, true love.
The greatest negatives here are the script and the movie’s similarity to other movies. Not to say it’s a carbon copy of other things, like so many comedies are these days. Still, it has too many similarities to The Hangover, Weekend at Bernie’s, Very Bad Things, and Bridesmaids for its own good, though you do have to give it props for having the balls (should I use that word for this movie??) to go for that mix. And while the premise and overall story is fun, the execution isn’t one-hundred percent. For example, the script sets up some things that it never fully delivers on, and the dialogue is mostly forgettable.
However, that takes me right into my positives, because though the comedic dialogue isn’t up to par, the performances, physical comedy, and situational comedy are. The main players do a great job, and the chemistry between the five girls seems genuine. Not only that, but it is clear that the entire cast was cool to do whatever strangeness Aniello and Downs required. Especially good are Johansson and McKinnon. Johansson does an excellent job as basically the “straight man” in the silliness, and Kate McKinnon, on the opposite end of the spectrum, is hilariously ridiculous as an exaggeratedly stereotypical Australian. McKinnon commits, and here she is finally well-used in a movie, and used appropriately. I love her appearances on SNL but have felt unenthusiastic about her film appearances. Her weirdo wackiness is present in just the right amount here. Oh, and I can’t fail to mention Downs, whose turn as ScarJo’s fiancé turns some potentially boring segments into big laughs.
Everything else in the movie was just OK.
I would say my wife drug me to this movie, but I can’t truly say that, because I was interested in seeing Kate McKinnon in something halfway decent, and I was also interested in how the critically-acclaimed Broad City team would do trying their hand at a feature film comedy. Aniello, Downs, and the rest did fine, but I can’t say we’ve found a new McKay, Ferrell, and Co. They can probably compete with most of Paul Feig’s output, though.
I’m going to give Rough Night a 72%.
Ooh – good to know! I had rather dismissed this from the trailer, but your review makes me want to maybe give it a chance – thanks! 🙂
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Thanks for reading! The movie the trailers sell is honestly only a fourth or a third of the movie. Trailers these days…
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Couldn’t agree more – they either mislead you totally, or spoil the movie by giving far too much away!
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