Movie Review: “Rough Night”
Jess (Scarlett Johansson) is getting married soon, but she is also running for office, so she does not want her friends to plan anything crazy for her bachelorette party. If things got out of hand, or had things like strippers or drugs, then the press could get wind of it and it could hurt her chances at getting elected. Thus, she just wants a normal bachelorette party, but her friends have other plans. Alice (Jillian Bell), Blair (Zoe Kravitz), and Frankie (Ilana Glazer) plan a night of clubbing in Miami where they are joined by Jess' Australian friend, Pippa (Kate McKinnon).
The group does cocaine then secretly orders a stripper for Jess, and that is when the night goes horribly wrong. After an accident results in the death of the stripper, and with illegal drugs and a dead stripper in their place, the women decide that they cannot go to the police. Instead they must find a way to get rid of the body before anyone finds out what happened. This unfortunately turns out to be much more difficult than any of the women could have anticipated. Jess just wanted a normal bachelorette party with her friends, but what she got instead could mean the end of end her career and her marriage before they even really began.
The Pros & Cons
Kate McKinnon (+6pts)
Peter & Bachelor Party (+2pts)
Pro: Kate McKinnon (+6pts)
Kate McKinnon was one of the best things about this movie. I was not a fan of her role in Ghostbusters, as I thought her character in that movie felt exaggerated and did not fit with the rest of the movie. Fortunately, her character worked in this one. The movie got significantly better as soon as her character made her first appearance, and whenever the other characters needed to focus on the plot, Kate McKinnon kept the comedy coming
Her character, Pippa, was crazy. She was an eccentric and wild Australian woman, and she was constantly delivering effective comedy. Part of it was what she was saying, but the other part was the way she said it. She was weird, and the other characters' reactions to her made her weird delivery work even better. In almost all other areas, this movie was very typical. However, Kate McKinnon as Pippa gave this movie something unique. It was not laugh-out-loud comedy, but her character was always amusing and made this movie a lot more entertaining than it would have been otherwise.
Con: Setup (-5pts)
This movie was about an hour and forty minutes, but it could have (and probably should have) been twenty minutes shorter. The filmmakers spent just a little too much screen-time setting everything up. We got setup for: Jess' career, Jess' relationship, Alice, Blair, Frankie, the group's college days, and then them getting settled in Miami. Some setup was definitely and obviously necessary, but some was not, and the problem came from having no real comedy to get us through the setup. Once this movie got going, it became pretty entertaining, the filmmakers just took a little too long to find this premise's sweet spot.
Pro: Climax (+4pts)
While the setup for this movie was pretty weak, the climax of the movie was pretty entertaining and chaotic. I do not want to get into the details to avoid spoilers, but a lot went down at the end of this movie. Some of it was predictable, some of it happened in ways you will not expect, but I thought the climax of this movie worked well. It had me laughing, it had a bunch of surprising moments, and it had me on the edge of my seat wondering how the rest would go down. The road to the climax could have been better, but it was definitely entertaining once it arrived.
Con: Alice (-4pts)
This character was written pretty poorly in this movie. I have liked Jillian Bell in the few other movies that I have seen her in. She has a unique comedic style that I think works well in supportive roles. Her characters are usually full of quips, they are usually confrontational (which usually throws a wrench into other character's plans), and her characters usually complement the comedic styles of other characters well. In this movie, however, I did not think her character worked.
The comedy from this character felt desperate, and most of it did not land. It felt as if she were trying too hard, and I did not think she fit well with the other characters in this story. I also thought that Kate McKinnon frequently took the role of the comedic relief for the movie, which made Jillian Bell's character feel unnecessary. Interestingly, I think my issue with this character was a lot like my issue with Kate McKinnon's character in Ghostbusters. She felt like she was (comedically) in an entirely different movie than the other characters, and it made the character stand out in a bad way. To be clear, my issue was not with Jillian Bell, but I thought her character's comedy felt desperate and ultimately missed its mark.
Pro: Peter & Bachelor Party (+2pts)
This was definitely one of the funniest parts of the movie. In a movie that was supposed to be about a group of women during a bachelorette party that has gotten out of control, I did not expect to enjoy the male side of this story-line. Peter (Paul W. Downs) is marrying Jess, and while the movie was showing the chaos that was occurring at the bachelorette party, it would randomly cut to the not as exciting bachelor party. It was kind of a role reversal from similar movies that I have seen in the past, and this provided some of the movie's funnier moments.
As the bachelorette party took a turn for the worse, Peter grew more and more concerned. As he grew more concerned, his night started going off the rails as well and it was a storyline that was filled with funny moments—just remember: diapers. While Peter's story-line was very entertaining, the movie obviously focused way more on the bachelorette party—as it should have. Thus, this story-line provided a number of funny moments, but it did not have a huge impact on my enjoyment of the movie.
Con: Generic (-6pts)
My biggest issue with this movie was that it seemed to be trying too hard to be the next The Hangover, but it simply was not. The Hangover was a raunchy, non-stop and unpredictable comedy. Rough Night had a slow start, and had the same (now generic) "crazy" plot points, and the same (now typical) raunchy comedy. This movie tried hard to be the next extremely popular, non-stop, raunchy comedy, but it failed to deliver anything fresh.
The Hangover was an unexpected hit, that worked so well because viewers were not expecting it to be the way that it was. You will go into this movie expecting a crazy bachelorette party, but it never felt as crazy and unpredictable as The Hangover did. The result was a movie that felt like it was trying to capture the formula of The Hangover, but like the two sequels to that movie, Rough Night failed to capture the magic that the filmmakers of The Hangover were able to capture. It just felt like it was going through the motions of what a "crazy" comedy should be, but it never actually felt crazy.
Grade: C- (72pts)
Was this a bad movie? No, as it had some very entertaining moments and some entertaining characters. Kate McKinnon brought her best and this movie was better for it. Her character was nuts, she was crazy, she was weird and her character was just fun to watch. I also enjoyed the bachelor party story-line, and the climax of the movie.
Was this a good movie? No, as it was too generic and I felt like it was trying too hard to be the next big raunchy-comedy hit. Instead, it came across as being desperate to be a hit, which ended up causing it to fall short. I also thought the setup of the movie was drawn out too long, and there was not enough comedy to keep it interesting during that period. To put it simply, this movie was not bad, but it was not good either. The filmmakers clearly were going for another The Hangover, but the movie ended up being a pretty average comedy.