My friend Chris suggested that I send my intern to see Rough Night and skip it myself. That was Chris’s suggestion for Chips also. Boy was he right about Chips. That thing was a steaming pile. However, I did not hate Rough Night. I would even go as far as to say that I kind of liked it. (By the way, I do not have an intern… it was just a joke.)
Jess (Scarlett Johansson) is going to get married so she is going to have a bachelorette party with her college friends, organized by her “best” friend Alice (Jillian Bell). The four college friends also included former flames Frankie (Ilana Glazer) and Blair (Zoë Kravitz) and, despite Alice’s objections, the weekend also included Jess’ friend from Austrailia, Pippa (Kate McKinnon).
Alice planned a weekend of debauchery and drug use and, although reluctantly at first, Jess and the others joined in. When the women ordered a stripper, the night took a distinct turn for the worse. The stripper turned up and is accidentally killed, leaving the five women to question what they could do.
I will say right away that the trailers for this film did not interest me much because they focused on the “party girl” aspect of the film. It made the film look like a big drug-fueled, party film and those types of movies rarely interests me. And that was what the first 25-30 minutes of this movie was like and I could feel myself checking out.
Then the stripper died, and things became considerably better. The film became darker, the comedy became funnier, and the pace picked up dramatically. I found myself enjoying much of the remainder of Rough Night.
I also thought that this would be too much like “Weekend at Bernie’s,” and, though there is some of that as well, it did not dominate the film. The second part of this film is like “Weekend at Bernie’s” crossed with “Very Bad Things.”
The cast is definitely a strong point. Scarlett Johannson is great as the straight-and-narrow, “I’m running for public office” Jess. Later in the film, she is able to break out some Black Widow moves as well. Kate McKinnon is spot on as the Vegemite-loving Aussie. Jillian Bell does go over the top too much and the jealousy she showed toward McKinnon was too cliched. Bell’s character seems to resemble a character that might be played by Rebel Wilson.
The film kept flashing back to Jess’s fiance Peter (Paul W. Downs), who had received a weird phone call from Jess and was worried that she wanted to break up with him. I enjoyed these scenes with the uncharacteristic Peter almost as much as the main characters. I believed that the time spent with Peter really improved the humor of the movie.
Now, the story needed to be better. It felt too much like a network sitcom with some penis jokes. The premise, however, works fine, but the story itself unravels as the film progresses. There are too many predictable aspects to the plot, and I think this could have been a really great comedy with better writing, because the cast is tremendous and they all work extremely well together. I believed that these five women would do anything for each other.
I have said before that a comedy that makes me laugh can cover up other flaws in the film, and, once the stripper died, Rough Night made me laugh. The chemistry with the women was great and I enjoyed the flashes to the fiance and his desperation. On the whole, this could have been better, but really I expected it to be worse.