Director: Lucia Aniello
Starring: Scarlett Johansson, Jillian Bell, Zoe Kravitz, Ilana Glazer, Kate McKinnon, Paul W. Downs, Demi Moore, Ty Burrell, Ryan Cooper
I feel like movies about bachelor/bachelorette parties should just be a subgenre of their own. Every year it seems we get a new R-rated comedy where a wild party or night out on the town escalates far too quickly. The 2017 entry is Rough Night starring Scarlett Johansson as Jessica Thayer who is in full campaign mode as she’s running for state senate. At the same time, she’s in the final weeks leading up to her wedding. That must mean it’s time for her bachelorette party. She reunites with her four girlfriends from college for the weekend to top all weekends. Her maid of honor, Alice (Bell), has planned a massive weekend for them down in Miami. She’s the raunchiest of them all and is desperate to get away from her kids. Also joining Alice is Jess’s friend Pippa (McKinnon) from Australia, full-time protestor and hipster Frankie (Glazer), and wealthy Blair (Kravitz) who is just starting the divorce process from her husband.
While Jess is excited to have a good time, she also has a reputation and image to protect if she wants to win a spot in politics. It’s only the first night of their debauchery, and she lets her guard down by doing some cocaine and drinking too hard. She may be in the clear if it didn’t go from bad to worse. One of her friends hires a stripper to entertain them back at their rental property. It’s not too long after he arrives before he knocks his head on some furniture and dies on the scene. Jess’s marriage and career is now on the line as the girls try to sober up and figure out what to do with their dead stripper. While this is happening Jessica’s fiancé, Peter (Downs), is having his own bachelor party. His party is on the opposite end of the spectrum as his buddies are enjoying an easy-going wine tasting until he gets a frantic and mysterious call from Jess.
Rough Night is under the direction of Lucia Aniello who co-wrote the film with Paul W. Downs. Both also serve as writers for Comedy Central’s Broad City starring Ilana Glazer. I haven’t seen enough of the show to know it’s specific style and sense of humor, but if this is any indication, it definitely pushes the boundaries without going too far. This film is probably best described as a mix of Bridesmaids and I Know What You Did Last Summer or Weekend at Bernie’s. I didn’t expect the dark twist that came with the dead stripper. It’s by no means scary as Aniello and Downs try to find the humor in them attempting to get rid of the body. There’s even a little twist that comes into play with the stripper, which I saw coming a mile away. Paul W. Downs’s fiancé storyline is just as funny as the main one with the girlfriends. It’s a nice take on the fiancé role, which is usually a throwaway role for the actor.
Every bachelor party movies seems to spiral into a crazy train of horrible events. This must only happen in the movies, as I don’t think I’ve ever heard of this happening in real life. Moviegoers go to these types of movies because we want the wild night out without the dramatic turn of events for our own parties. Rough Night is not nearly as strong as Bridesmaids or The Hangover but there are decent laughs along the way thanks to Kate McKinnon and Jillian Bell. With some of McKinnon’s film roles before this in Masterminds, Ghostbusters, or Office Christmas Party, it felt like she was still acting for Saturday Night Live. Each role she had turned into the caricature, sketch comedy style. I never felt that way with her in Rough Night despite the ridiculous Australian accent. She felt more natural in a film role than I’ve seen from her previously. Rough Night also benefits from having a diverse cast with distinct characters. You don’t normally associate Scarlett Johansson or Zoe Kravitz with this kind of movie. It works well here for the dynamics of where we find all five of the women at in juxtaposition to their friendship in college. Ty Burrell and Demi Moore pop up in minor roles as the frisky neighbors living next door to the house the girls are staying in.
I don’t think anyone’s going into Rough Night expecting the best comedy of the year – it’s not. It does make for a decent girls night out movie. It’s one where you pony up to the bar first, have a drink, and then have some good laughs in the movie. Aniello and Downs didn’t set out to make the most original bachelorette style movie, but it hits just enough of the right notes along the way. This won’t be thought of as Scarlett Johansson’s best work, but it’s certainly better than Ghost in the Shell. I applaud the range of movies she takes on in her career even if some of them are misses.
Is It Worth Your Trip to the Movies? By no means a great movie but has just enough laughs to keep you mildly entertained.
RATING: 3 out of 5 TICKET STUBS