There is a breed of comedy which just sees people do all sorts of crude debauchery and they can be so fun that even a prude like me can enjoy them. But they are a bit sexist in that the main characters do things which your mother should never see are usually male. Female characters do exist in these movies, but they are there to be prudes and be judgmental of all the fun stuff the men get to do. So it’s about time that women get the chance to be incredibly drunk and do things they’ll regret for the rest of their lives and Rough Night is the movie to showcase that. But is it any good?
Jess (Scarlett Johansson, Lost in Translation) has moved on from her college days and is running for Senate as well as planning to get married. Because of this, she reluctantly heads to Miami with her college best friend Alice (Jillian Bell, 22 Jump Street) for her bachelorette party. However, it all goes wrong when the party accidentally kills their stripper (Colton Haynes, Arrow) and there is a desperate attempt to cover it up.
So all in all, Rough Night a good setup for a rambunctious comedy. We have a weird cast of characters ranging from wannabe politician, overly nostalgic friend, hippie and an Australian all trying to deal with this horrendous situation. And while some of you may say it’s too dark for this sort of movie, well Fawlty Towers did an episode involving a dead guy once and it pulled it off despite being one of the silliest shows on television. But you need to actually be funny to pull it off and that’s where this movie falls flat on its arse. It’s not that the movie isn’t actually funny, it doesn’t seem to tell many jokes at all. The situations play out as you’d expect and there are very few jokes made, at least they were such lame attempts at humor that I didn’t even realize they were making a joke. I suppose that’s better than many films which make the joke and leave those few seconds for you laugh only to be greeted by deadly silence.
That’s not to say that Rough Night never attempts a joke. It does, they are just often terrible. For instance, Pippa (Kate McKinnon, Saturday Night Live) plays an Australian whose come over to help celebrate the fact Jess is about to get married. Instead of giving her a personality, the movie just decides the fact she’s Australian is enough and hopes that will make you laugh. What this amounts to is Pippa constantly saying that she is Australian and doing things you might expect an Australian to do. So yes, you are meant to laugh when she pulls out a jar of vegemite. That’s all she does, she doesn’t do anything funny or say anything amusing about the vegemite, she just has it because she’s Australian and doesn’t leave the country without it.
The only time Rough Night never puts effort into its humor is when it’s explaining them. Yes, at points the movie makes a joke, realizes you aren’t laughing and then actually decides the reason you weren’t laughing because you didn’t get it. Never mind the film’s humor is on level with a high school student, nothing wrong with that but this is the cesspool they are aiming for, it feels the need to explain certain jokes to you. This is just insulting and gets the film getting in the fallout zone of the likes of Fist Fight and Dirty Grandpa because quite frankly, I don’t really like it when a movie thinks I’m so stupid that I need the characters to hold my hand and explain why their jokes are funny.
The oddest thing about this film is that it never really has fun with its own promise or dares to go over the top. This is meant to be a film where crazy things happen while you are drunk but the movie seems scared to do any of these actually crazy things. Sure, the characters take cocaine but all of that is off the screen like the image of seeing some women snort some coke is going to damage our fragile minds. No, this film instead just hints at the potential craziness. Let’s look at the neighbors for an example. They a sex-crazed couple who would like a threesome. Now this could be mined for good humor as them coming onto the main characters could make them uncomfortable or a number of other reactions, but the film shies away from this. The acting from the neighbors is only slightly over the top and their scenes are so short the uncomfortability factor barely settles in. it’s just a huge waste.
I will tell you about the one joke I actually laughed at because I am in a good mood today. When Jess and co are actually in a raucous party, we cut to her husband Peter (Paul W. Downs, Broad City) and his bachelor party. Instead of being the usual thing you’d expect from a guy’s stag do, it’s a very elegant dinner party where they get very excited about the idea of tasting more wine. Considering it is usually the reverse in these sort of movies, I did get a chuckle out of this well-done twist of clichés. However, it is only the laugh in this two-hour movie.
Rough Night is just another terrible comedy to be put out by Hollywood. Yes, it is novel that it is the women are the ones doing the debauchery this time around but just because you innovated in this area doesn’t mean you can get away with being lazy in every other single part of the film. It lacks humour, the performances from the actors involved are dull and it’s then insulting to your intelligence to make things even worse. You’ll certainly have a rough night if you watch this movie.