ROUGH NIGHT Review
Director: Lucia Aniello
ROUGH NIGHT was probably the most shocking movie I’ve seen so far this year, as an unexpected death at the beginning of the second act had me literally gasping in the movie theater (and also maybe shouting expletives). I walked into this film expecting a second rate BRIDESMAIDS about sex, drugs, and assorted other R-rated antics. And that’s what I saw at first—the girls hit the town, snort coke, and hire strippers; you know, the usual. However, this movie truly means what they say when they call it a “Rough Night”—because these gal-pals accidentally kill a guy and then spend the rest of the movie trying to cover it up and stay out of trouble, with little success in either endeavor.
Obviously, everyone watching ROUGH NIGHT is going to compare it to Paul Feig’s 2011 super-smash-hit BRIDESMAIDS—unfortunately, it never manages to hit the same marks as its far more famous peer. Where BRIDESMAIDS had instantly classic scenes, true-to life characters and scenarios, and funny lines coming at you left and right, ROUGH NIGHT is a middle-of-the-road attempt at all of the above, never managing to fully land and often opting for the quicker, cheaper route.
I mean, will any movie ever be able to top this anyway?
So sure, it may not be the first all-female-led, wedding-related, R-rated summer comedy starring SNL cast members, but that’s not to say that ROUGH NIGHT is ONLY a cheap knock off. In fact, it has a lot of things going for it. The strongest point in its favor is the elegant presence of Scarlett Johansson and Zo? Kravitz, who are both so extraordinarily beautiful that watching them onscreen for a couple hours is worth the price of admission alone. Playing a Clinton-esque politician, Johansson’s comedic sensibility is very acceptable and enjoyable on principle alone; considering her strengths are usually found in the more dramatic genres, (although she does have some ensemble experience as an Avenger), watching her wield a wax strip as a weapon and do goofy dances was a uniquely funny experience. I also appreciated the reality that the more dramatically-inclined actresses (largely Johansson and Kravitz) brought to the situation, because with a setup like this, it’s very easy to become over-the-top and carried away.
Speaking of over-the-top, although Kate McKinnon enters the storyline later than the rest, her presence is warmly welcomed and really keeps the humor alive. Her stupid, quasi-Australian accent makes every line of her dialogue inherently funny, and beyond that. she of course plays the “wild card” of the crew, making her character the most entertaining by far, stealing nearly every scene. Crashing jet skis and getting it on with the hot corpse are a few choice examples of her largely enjoyable ridiculousness.
Even with their wack hairdos, these gals are the hottest around
Also, I’m always down to support fully female-fronted films, especially one coming from the creative force of BROAD CITY. It’s always nice to have the guarantee of well-written female characters! Even though the “uptight politician” and “tree-hugging hippie protestor” roles are not exceptionally unique, these women have understandable motivations and emotions, with realistic reactions and outbursts. It was also a pleasant surprise to have the central romantic tension role filled by Zo? Kravitz and Ilana Glazer, especially since there were no offensive lesbian jokes and they didn’t make an untoward deal out of it. It’s a shame that this movie wasn’t better, because it had the potential to become a positive step in the right direction, what with its female cast and crew and lesbian leads, instead of a lukewarm summer outing.
So what made it less than perfect? The plotline itself (the ladies covering up their accidental murder victim) becomes a bit jumbled with tangents and false leads. For example, it was deemed necessary for Zo? Kravitz to hook up with the “open marriage” couple next door, with little-to-no relation to the actual main narrative. In addition, the subplot involving ScarJo’s fiance (Paul W. Downs) attempting to get to Miami after receiving a distressed phone call was cringe-worthy at best and annoying at worst, with an abundance of obnoxious blowjob jokes, also some great advice on how to give a great blowjob and a far-fetched police arrest scene.
Though ROUGH NIGHT depends on some cliche plotlines and characters and often goes for the gross-out with cheap gags and jokes, it ends up being an enjoyable enough romp, thanks in large part to its charming and funny cast. Sure, it may not hit every mark and there is a lot of stupid comedy. (Once again, everything involving her fiance, who loads up on energy drinks, Russian meth, and diapers to make it to Miami without stopping, is a little bit silly.) At the end of the day, I’m not sure I can recommend forking over 15 dollars to see i it in theaters. But this movie was absolutely MADE to be watched on your “girls-night-in” when you’re all a little wine tipsy and in the mood to laugh at some silly nonsense.