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Saturday, June 17, 2017

Rough Night

The premise for Rough Night will be familiar to anyone who saw Peter Berg's 1998 film, Very Bad Things.  That was the movie about the bachelor party that went wrong, where a stripper was killed, and the guys had to find a way to hide the body.  This movie is about a bachelorette party that goes wrong, where a stripper is killed, and the women have to find a way to hide the body.  The difference is that Berg's film was savage and dark, while this comes across as a dopey sitcom with four letter words.

This is a movie that goes through many motions - From dull and uninteresting, to strangely off-putting, and even sentimental schmaltz, where the girls at the center of the situation begin to realize they've grown apart since their days as best friends from college.  Yep, there's a bleeding stripper in the middle of the room, but all Alice (Jillian Bell) cares about is that her best friend Jess (Scarlett Johansson) doesn't Skype with her like she does her other friends, and also didn't invite her to her bridal shower.  This is also a movie that doesn't have an original bone in its entire body, lifting wholesale from The Hangover, Bridesmaids and Weekend at Bernie's.  Finally, this is a movie that feels a lot longer than it is, despite running roughly 100 minutes.  Maybe the actresses had fun making this, but the audience doesn't get to share in their joy in watching it.

Johansson plays Jess, the bride-to-be.  She's set to marry Peter (Paul W. Downs), the safe and boring type whose idea of a bachelor party is to do a wine tasting with his friends. (Cue the classical music playing in the background, and the "snobby" stuck up friends.)  Jess is also running for Senate, and is having a hard time relating to the voters.  Regardless, she takes some time off her campaign to go to Miami in order to party with her best friends from college, do shots, and snort cocaine.  You know, the kind of thing any public figure running a campaign would do out in the open and the public eye.  Her friends include Blair (Zoe Kravitz), a successful businesswoman struggling with a recent divorce, Frankie (Ilana Glazer), a lesbian and activist, and schoolteacher Alice (Bell), who arranged this whole get together in the first place.  They are also joined by Pippa (Kate McKinnon), a friend Jess met while studying abroad in Australia.  And yes, McKinnon's Australian accent is hit and miss, but at least her performance is the most interesting one in the film.

The women are set up with a multi-million dollar house for the weekend, provided by one of Jess' wealthier donators to her campaign.  It's right next door to an oversexed couple (Ty Burrell and Demi Moore), who seem to have walked in from a 1970s sex film.  The friends reunite, drink a lot, hit the clubs, and then head back to the house where they order a pizza and a stripper (Ryan Cooper).  When the stripper shows up and starts his routine, he's rudely interrupted about a minute in when an over eager Alice knocks him over and winds up cracking his skull, instantly killing him.  The women go into panic mode.  Yes, the death was an accident, but they have drugs and alcohol all over the place, there's Jess' campaign, and Frankie has had a lot of problems with the law recently.  And since this is a comedy (in theory, not in execution), the ladies make one bad decision after another, and screw up nearly every opportunity they get.

Rough Night sputters and wheezes to its conclusion.  There are periods where the friends almost seem to forget that there's a body in the house, and just crack wise, or have "girl talk" about their friendship.  We also get a bizarre subplot where Jess' fiance, Peter, is afraid that she doesn't want to marry him anymore due to a misunderstanding over the phone.  So, he straps on an adult diaper, and drives non-stop to Miami in order to face her.  This leads to a scene where he has to stop to gas up the car, finds out his credit card doesn't work, so he needs cash.  The two guys he asks for help happen to immediately come on to him, and ask if he wants to have sex with them.  No, this scene goes nowhere particularly interesting, and neither does the entire plot itself.  It's just there to pad out the running time, because the filmmakers knew that the movie was floundering.

Nothing that happens is all that funny.  There's the occasional line that made me crack a smile, but outside of that, it's kind of a lost cause.  This is one of those movies that seem to think the sight of women shrieking, panicking, and generally acting like morons is enough to build an entire comedy around.  And when the movie does try to make us care about these women by having them talk about their feelings and how hard their lives have become since their hopeful college years, it feels like false sentiment instead of genuine character building.  I simply had no interest in these people, and I never bought them as best friends to begin with.  The movie does give us a happy ending for these women, but a happier one for me would have been them realizing they've just grown apart, and going their separate ways.

Rough Night does little to hide its inspirations, and then does next to nothing to add its own inspired ideas.  It's lazy, it's cheap, and it wastes some true talents in its cast.  In other words, it fits right in with what has largely been a disappointing summer movie season thus far.

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