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Rough Night Movie Review

Rough Night (2017) movie poster Rough Night

Theatrical Release: June 16, 2017 / Running Time: 101 Minutes / Rating: R

Director: Lucia Aniello / Writers: Lucia Aniello, Paul W. Downs

Cast: Scarlett Johansson (Jessica Thayer), Jillian Bell (Alice), Zo Kravitz (Blair), Ilana Glazer (Frankie), Kate McKinnon (Kiwi/Pippa), Paul W. Downs (Peter), Ryan Cooper (Jay), Ty Burrell (Pietro), Demi Moore (Lea), Enrique Murciano (Detective Ruiz), Dean Winters (Detective Frazier), Colton Haynes (Real Scotty), Patrick Carlyle (Patrick), Eric Andre (Jake), Bo Burnham (Tobey), Hasan Minhaj (Joe), Karan Soni (Raviv), Laura Grey (Lisa), Mark Tallman (Malcolm)


With each passing year, the possibility of a sequel to Bridesmaids seems less and less likely.
There is undoubtedly easy money to be made, but Kristen Wiig and company aren't interested in making it that way. Instead, the raunchy 2011 comedy has been held up as a model for other female-driven comedy films to aspire to. From the Ghostbusters remake to Sisters to Bad Moms to Moms Night Out, many a recent film has aimed for Bridesmaids-level appeal and fallen short on some level.

Rough Night is the latest by women, for women comedy and this R-rated romp does seem overtly inspired by that hit Judd Apatow production. This one is billed from writers of "Broad City", the Comedy Central series that many young women swear by.

In "Rough Night", the bachelorette party of Jess (Scarlett Johansson) brings together five old friends for the first time in years.

The film opens in 2006, with coeds and best friends Jess (Scarlett Johansson) and Alice (Jillian Bell) vying for a beer pong championship at a frat Halloween party while their chums Blair (Zo Kravitz) and Frankie (Ilana Glazer) cheer them on. In the present day, Jess is running for state senator and about to marry her sweet, thoughtful boyfriend Peter (Paul W. Downs, one of the film's two writers). But you can't get married in a comedy movie without having a wild bachelor or bachelorette party. That is what Alice has planned for her bestie. The old college friends are to get together for the first time in years for an eventful weekend in Miami, where they'll joined by Jess' Australian pal Pippa (Kate McKinnon).

Things start excitingly enough with cocktails and cocaine. Then, a male stripper (Ryan Cooper) is hired to come to the fancy glass house that belongs to one of Jess' biggest donors. Before he can even get all the way naked, an accident leaves him struck in the head and, shortly thereafter, dead. The ladies panic, hesitating to call in police while there are drugs all over the scene. A scandal would ruin Jess' political career and she's already trailing her male opponent in pre-election polls.

The ladies put their cell phones and their heads together to hatch a plan to dispose of this stripper-escort whose accidental death they reasonably fear they will be held responsible for. "Bridesmaids meets Weekend at Bernie's" might have been uttered in the pitch.

Jess (Scarlett Johansson), Alice (Jillian Bell), Frankie (Ilana Glazer), and Blair (Zo Kravitz) form a Human Friendipede in "Rough Night."

Downs and his director/co-writer Lucia Aniello do not fully commit to the action comedy genre, but they flirt with it while not just ripping off Bridesmaids and the like.
They give their characters some depth and some room to develop. It is not simply a parade of footjob jokes and coked-up shenanigans. Blair and Frankie, for instance, have a romantic past together, while Alice is very standoffish and threatened by Pippa.

There are enough diverting moments to keep you entertained. Some of the comedy is forced and ineffective. The whole narrative of Peter stocking up on adult diapers and Red Bulls to "sad astronaut" his way down to Miami never works as intended (although my screening audience was amused by it) and its payoffs are too predictable. Slightly better are Ty Burrell and Demi Moore as a couple of middle-aged swingers with their hearts set on Blair. Some of the surprises, you see coming far in advance. Others are slightly more disarming, though this isn't the kind of movie that leans too heavily on twists.

The mostly TV-seasoned cast makes the most of the material. Johansson has not dabbled in this kind of comedy before, but she seems pretty at ease here as mainly the straight woman, while castmates Bell and McKinnon are asked to do the heavy lifting comedically. Bell seems determined to make this a Melissa McCarthy-type breakout role. It probably isn't and she's definitely not going to pick up an Oscar nomination. Still, nothing about Rough Night is an affront to good taste. The results are breezy and the film manages to be slightly more than crude just for crudeness sake.

Related Reviews:
Now in Theaters: Cars 3 The Mummy
Scarlett Johansson: Her He's Just Not That Into You | Ilana Glazer: The Night Before
Jillian Bell: Fist Fight Workaholics: Seasons 1 & 2 | Kate McKinnon: Office Christmas Party Ghostbusters Masterminds
Zo Kravitz: Mad Max: Fury Road Divergent X-Men: First Class
Sisters How to Be Single The Hangover

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Reviewed June 16, 2017.

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