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Rough Night (2017)

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Score: 2/10

Genre: Comedy Running Time: 1 hr. 41 min.

Release Date: June 16th, 2017 MPAA Rating: R

Director: Lucia Aniello Actors: Scarlett Johansson, Jillian Bell, Zoe Kravitz, Ilana Glazer, Kate McKinnon, Paul W. Downs, Ryan Cooper, Ty Burrell, Demi Moore, Dean Winters, Colton Haynes

T

en years have passed since college, but former roommates Jess (Scarlett Johansson), Alice (Jillian Bell), Blair (Zoe Kravitz), and Frankie (Ilana Glazer) remain close friends. Desperate to recreate the gang’s wild antics of years ago, group ringleader Alice ardently plans out every minute of a weekend bachelorette party in Miami after Jess becomes engaged. Much to Alice’s dismay, Jess invites Pippa (Kate McKinnon, who is always watchable despite playing a crude Australian caricature), her friend from abroad, to join in the festivities – and the two immediately butt heads. Nevertheless, Alice is determined to concoct the craziest night imaginable for her comrades, resulting in late-night cocktails that transition into cocaine, clubbing, and hiring a male stripper. But boisterous partying is the least of the girls’ problems when Alice accidentally kills their guest – with understandable fear prompting them to make a series of increasingly bad decisions.

Partway through the movie, Jess’ groom Peter (Paul W. Downs, who also cowrote the script) embarks upon an epic, win-her-back, save-the-day rat-race, involving a sleepless, long-distance drive, cases of Red Bull, strange German pills, and boxes of adult diapers – so that he doesn’t have to stop to use the restroom. This concept becomes a key paradigm of the many failures of “Rough Night,” as the gags just don’t go far enough. The setup in this particular subplot makes little sense, since Peter is still shown stopping for gas and getting pulled over by the police for speeding, which wastes the time he could have spent simply using a bathroom. But more upsetting than the nonsense is the refusal to push the jokes to their limits – or, preferably, to extremes. The Red Bull only makes Peter hyper; the foreign pills have no effect beyond what the Red Bull already believably accomplishes; and the adult diapers are utterly ignored for their potentially disgusting – but, presumably, laughably gross – purpose, save for a few seconds of passerby feeling uncomfortable around an adult in a puffy white diaper (and, of course, it’s never explained why he wouldn’t wear pants over the diaper, which is what is expected of people who use them).

Unlike comparable movies such as “Bridesmaids,” “Bachelorette,” “The Hangover,” or even the humorless “Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates,” this latest foray into raunchy, teen-oriented comedy (the girls here are older, but nevertheless engage in college-age rascalities) doesn’t push any boundaries. It isn’t fresh or bold enough to include a single moment that can come to define the movie – specifically when it comes to describing it or reminiscing about it with others. There’s urination, sex, racism, brief political jabs, drinking, drugs, vibrators, and penis jokes. Someone even utters the phrase, “Swimming in dick.” But none of it is notably edgy. In fact, the introduction of kinky neighbors, the rebelliousness of hiring sex workers, mischievousness in a borrowed mansion, the overly obnoxious friends, and even the central switcheroo are trite and stale. Nothing comes out of left field; nothing is jaw-dropping. And this is to say nothing of the dead-stripper routine, which has been done so many times in film that it is, by itself, a popular cliche.

Another problem is the inclusion of five starring characters, which is too large of a number to properly define and utilize for a fast-paced, 100-minute comedy. This is made annoyingly apparent when Jess and Blair feel interchangeable, and when Alice and Pippa play extroverted rivals with similar bursts of loudness and slapstick. Both of these pairs could have been combined to make a more significant, funnier individual. So when panic sets in to aid in the escalation of conflict, the chaos is heightened, but not the humor. As a result, the predicaments become severe, with pure fantasy as the only manner of resolution. But violence and gun-waving and the breakdown of friendships (eventually, true feelings surface, to the tune of angry, angsty, acerbic arguments) are difficult items for over-the-top comedy to conquer, lending to insincerity and further farfetched solutions. Oddly enough, the very reason for the primary antagonists to behave the way they do is never even given an outcome. Apparently, it’s just too unimportant to resolve, despite being the crux of their fiasco. But most unforgivable is simply the lack of laugh-out-loud moments. Storylines are rarely works of art in these kinds of comedies; the absence of singular outrageousness is much tougher to excuse.

– The Massie Twins

 



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