Film Review: Rough Night

Yet another film in the vein of Bad Moms: let’s get some talented comic actresses and let them get vulgar as all hell and it will be hilarious. That may sound like I’m knocking the formula but I’m certainly not doing that. The aforementioned film was quite entertaining and allowed for some strong women to showcase comedic chops that they haven’t always gotten the chance to show before and resulted in a pretty underrated little comedy hit.

The plot is pretty straight-foward: four friends – Jess (Scarlett Johansson), Alice (Jillian Bell), Blair (Zoe Kravitz) and Frankie (Ilana Glazer), who all make a pact to never lose touch even with them going in different directions following college. That doesn’t exactly work out as well as planned. Jess is running for office, Alice is a hot mess, Blair is in the middle of a custody battle and Frankie is a super-liberal protester of pretty much anything. However, when Jess is about to get married, Alice and the girls reunite for a big bachelorette party in Miami that goes swimmingly… until they accidentally kill a male prostitute. Hijinx ensue.

The film is hit-or-miss overall but the performances are all pretty enjoyable. Even though I wouldn’t necessarily say that Scarlett Johansson is a comedy superstar, her timing is pretty good and her purpose is to be more of the “straight” character in the bunch anyway. Her friends are the ones who mainly bring the laughs, particularly Jillian Bell as the bombastic friend and Kate McKinnon as the former Australian exchange student. Both Bell and McKinnon have good love-hate chemistry between them and the former’s spiteful resentment combined with the latter’s wide-eyed optimism made for some funny moments. The other two friends played by Zoe Kravitz and Ilana Glazer are not nearly as funny but the storyline about the romantic tension between them is a breath of fresh air and not even handled in a stereotypical fashion.

While some of the gags elicit some decent-sized laughs and there are plenty of enjoyable performances as stated above, the problems in the film are present. The movie is so tonally inconsistent at times that it almost doesn’t know if it wants to be a black comedy, an over-the-top one or a silly, goofy romp. It shifts between the three so often that it becomes noticeable and almost jarring at times. That stuff is mostly saved by some good stuff that stem from the performances including one particular gag from McKinnon involving the dead body that gets a big laugh/gasp moment (hint: it’s not the one you’ve seen in the trailers), a funny sight gag sequence involving the bachelor party (with the criminally underused Eric Andre) and a great scene in which Peter (Jess’ fiance) inspires two lost souls to connect with each other at a gas station in order to secure the finances to continue his own journey.

The stuff with Ty Burrell and Demi Moore as a sex-crazed neighbouring couple doesn’t work quite as well but their continued interest in Blair and subsequent sex scene is very unexpected and gets a few laughs on the basis of the reactions from the rest of the cast.

It won’t set the world on fire but it’s an enjoyable movie with some laughs to be had even if it can’t decide what kind of film it wants to be half the time.

RATING: ***

 

Rating System:

Less than * (Actively offensive to one’s intelligence)

* (Brutal; bottom-of-the-barrel)

** (Some elements keep it from being awful but still not very good)

*** (Completely watchable; a rental as old-timers might say)

**** (Great film with a few things here and there keeping it from being perfect)

***** (Flawless; a true achievement)