Friday, June 16, 2017

Movie Review: "Rough Night" (2017)

Director: Lucia Aniello
Year: 2017
Rating: R
Running Time: 1 hour, 41 minutes

A group of old college friends meets up in Miami for a bachelorette party. However, their trip turns to chaos when they accidentally kill a stripper.

"Rough Night" is directed by Lucia Aniello, who also helped write the film with her partner Paul W. Downs, though they should probably give a writing credit to Peter Berg for borrowing his concept from "Very Bad Things." It stars Scarlett Johansson, Jillian Bell, Zoƫ Kravitz, Ilana Glazer, and Kate McKinnon, who make up a group of women who have been friends since college. Jess, played by Johansson, is about to get married to Peter, played by Downs, so the friends have all reunited for a bachelorette party in Miami, Florida. While fueled up on cocaine, alcohol, and debauchery, one of the ladies winds up accidentally killing the stripper they ordered from Craigslist. Still inebriated and panicked, the women try to figure out what to do and seem to keep making matters worse.

We made a crack up above about how the concept for "Rough Night" is directly ripped from "Very Bad Things," which it absolutely is, but beyond that, the two movies are quite different. Despite being about a murder, this is not a dark comedy whatsoever. It is essentially "The Hangover" with women going to a bachelorette party, not men, that happens in Miami instead of Las Vegas, and with a dead guy instead of a baby, with a bit of "Bridesmaids" thrown in for good measure. This is much more of a slapstick, goofball, raunchy comedy. Women are the ones going out, doing drugs, talking about genitalia and getting laid, partying, doing coke, and killing strippers, while the men are having a quiet bachelor party at a wine tasting where the craziest thing they do is have a chilled red. ZANY. Here, the roles are switched, and the movie plays on the stereotype that women are the ones who stay at home and have casual nights in while the men are the ones who go out and bang Craigslist prostitutes for their bachelor parties. This would be fine if the role reversal wasn't the joke. There's no punchline, it's just supposed to be funny because the roles are switched. Beyond this concept change, most the jokes fall completely flat and we cringed a hell of a lot more than we laughed. When we say "cringe," we don't mean cringe because the jokes are gross or edgy. We cringe because OH MY GOD THE JOKES ARE SO DAMN BAD.

Another big problem is the cast. It doesn't feel like any of the women have real chemistry with one another, at least that's how we felt. We really don't buy them as long time friends, and the cast feels like it was lazily slapped together by some executive team at Sony to fulfill various contractual obligations. Kate McKinnon tries to do a goofy Australian caricature who constantly cracks on cultural differences of Aussies versus New Zealanders. The funny thing is, she is one of the most watchable parts of this movie. Jillian Bell is borderline intolerable as the teacher who likes doing drugs, dropping F-bombs, and talking about dick, dick, dick, which is essentially the same character she played in "Fist Fight." Ilana Glazer also plays a walking stereotype as the privileged, rich woman turned lesbian activist. She is able to bring about a few smirks with her brazen attitude, but not much else. As for Johansson and Kravitz, since they aren't comedians, they are essentially "playing it straight" to all of the chicanery going on with everyone else, and unfortunately, they don't do a great job. We understand they might want to explore other genres of film at this point in their careers, but if we're being honest, they shouldn't venture into comedy again, and if they do, they should get a better movie behind them.

As for the story, well, it's an expected, contrived mess, though comedies can get away with convenient, trite plot lines if the movie makes you laugh. Unfortunately, "Rough Night" doesn't. It's always super awkward to sit in a theater not laugh at the comedy playing in front of us. We only truly laughed two times, but it's good to know we were not alone as the rest of the people in our viewing audience also fell silent to this flick. We feel like we've seen this movie before in other, more hilarious incarnations with a better cast, more chemistry, and less slapstick. Yikes.

My Rating: 3/10
BigJ's Rating: 2.5/10
IMDB's Rating: 5.6/10
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 52%
Do we recommend this movie: AVOID LIKE THE PLAGUE!!!

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