Rough Night (2017)
Rated R for crude sexual content, language throughout, drug use and brief bloody images
Score: 3 out of 5
Rough Night is a perfectly serviceable comedy. Nothing more, nothing less. It's no Bridesmaids, but it's a solidly entertaining 101 minutes that doesn't overstay its welcome, and is held up chiefly by a cast of characters who all felt authentic and avoided falling into one-note stereotypes. It's derivative of any number of raunchy bro comedies, the only thing really separating it from such being the fact that the genders are flipped, but it's definitely worth a matinee or catching on Netflix with a bunch of buddies.
...and there's not really a whole lot else to say. It's a movie where trying to explain what I liked about it would mean spoiling some funny jokes, which are the main reason to see this in the first place. Many other critics have noted it, and now it's my turn: the hardest film in the world to review is a good, but not great, mainstream comedy like this, as once you get past a story that's more often than not fairly run-of-the-mill, the only thing left to talk about is the humor, which is very tricky to talk about without spoiling the main reason why somebody might want to watch this film. More often than not, you have to use generic platitudes that amount to "this movie is funny, take my word for it", which, incidentally, sums up my feelings about this film to a tee. It's funny, but if I told you why, that would ruin it.
The plot should be familiar to anybody who's seen or heard of Weekend at Bernie's or Very Bad Things. Jessica (Scarlett Johansson), a young woman currently running for the state Senate, is getting married, and plans to throw a bachelorette party at a Miami Beach mansion lent to her by one of her donors. Along with her are four friends, three of them from college: her teacher best friend Alice (Jillian Bell), the activist Frankie (Ilana Glazer), the professional Blair (Zoe Kravitz), and finally, Pippa (Kate McKinnon), an Australian woman Jessica befriended on Skype. Things go horribly awry when the entertainment for the evening (a male stripper) is accidentally killed, and with all of them having their own reasons for not wanting to call the cops, they try to figure out how to dispose of the body, all while evading the suspicion of their eccentric, oversexed neighbors (Ty Burrell and Demi Moore). Meanwhile, Jessica's fiance Peter (Paul W. Downs), after a misunderstanding over the phone causes him to think that Jessica is leaving him, abandons what may be the most sedate bachelor party ever in order to get to Miami and save his relationship, whatever it takes.
Like I said, there's not a whole lot more to it than that beyond a third-act twist about the real identity of the "stripper". The characters were all fun to watch as they struggled to claw their way out of the predicament they had found themselves in. The film avoids the easy jokes about the characters. Alice isn't subject to fat jokes so much as she is subject to jokes about her over-excitable personality, Blair isn't the sassy black chick so much as she is the career woman (albeit one who recognizes that her blackness means she's doubly fucked), and the fact that Frankie and Blair dated in college is used less for titillation and more for jokes about how, even though Blair is married to (albeit separated from) a man now, they still quite obviously want to get back together. The lone exception is Pippa, a walking Berlitz Guide to Australian Stereotypes who's introduced with a jar of Vegemite, but this sort of wacky character is basically Kate McKinnon's stock in trade, and she goes wild with it. Paul W. Downs (who also co-wrote the film with director Lucia Aniello) does the same as Peter, a man who's willing to go full Lisa Nowak in order to solve a problem that he didn't realize never actually needed fixing, slowly turning from a straight-laced boyfriend into the living embodiment of Florida Man the closer he gets to Miami. Save for Jessica, the characters don't particularly grow much over the course of the film, and the plot is mainly an excuse to get to scenes involving jet skis, cocaine, horny neighbors, sex swings, and Smart cars. There were few particularly big laughs over the course of the film, but there were a whole slew of smaller ones, such that I was constantly grinning while watching this film.
The Bottom Line
Again, there's not a whole lot else to say. It's a funny, simple comedy that's not gonna revolutionize anything, but it gets the job done and doesn't have any really glaring flaws, even if it never quite excels. You'll probably forget about it before long, but it's worth a matinee for some easy chuckles.