ROUGH NIGHT Review: 3 out of 10 (Girls Gone Reviled)
ROUGH NIGHT is a comedy directed by Lucia Aniello (in her directorial debut) and stars Scarlett Johansson, Zoë Kravitz, Kate McKinnon, Jillian Bell and Ilana Glazer. The movie is a mix of two or three different movies--all of them with comedic potential but ultimately never committing to any of them. The film starts as just another BRIDESMAIDS knock-off with several female stereotypes (party mom, power broker, lesbian, perfectionist, wild card) who are all out in Miami for a bachelorette party. Add several scenes of glorifying rampant drug use, plenty of alcohol, and a suddenly dead male stripper to deal with --the premise is interesting enough. But moving from WEEKEND AT BERNIE'S type treatment of, you know, a *dead body*, to arguments over friendships to a mild crime caper that feels like a riff on VERY BAD THINGS, the movie loses its way quickly. The resulting film swings wildly with its script and the tone of the movie that creates a frenetic pace of a film that is never boring but doesn't ever become really interesting either.
Instead of leaning into the pratfalls and slapstick, it backs up and opts for dealing with these adult women coming to terms with their own personal crises. Where it could be totally subversive and move into some black comedy it chooses to circle back for more drug jokes and a sexual encounter with their Miami neighbors played by Ty Burrell and Demi Moore. In the end, the film is filled with potential to be something really great--but instead, chooses the low hanging fruit of tired raunchy tropes for humor and never really commits to anything relational with these women or even criminal and subversive with the dead stripper. There are some interesting ideas intercut with the fiancé and his alternating bachelor party that does deal with traditional gender roles, but alas, even these sequences feel like they need a re-write or three.
Director Aniello along with Ilana Glazer have experience with comedy troupe Broad City and Kate McKinnon is one of the funniest women working on SNL and in film today. Add Jillian Bell who has worked as a writer for SNL and you have some real talent who can do the comedic heavy lifting here. But Zoe Kravitz looks absolutely lost in every scene--with no comedic chops she seems to only know how to go for melodrama, which adds to the unevenness of the film. Worse yet is ScarJo who looks as though she lost a bet and forced to appear here. The script also opts to leave some of its major plot points out dangling that are so glaringly obvious to the audience and yet the characters on the screen remain hopelessly lost--even in the face of certain death. For those willing to brave the entire credit roll, the film then gives a final "reveal" as a coda to the movie that is as ridiculous as the rest of the dreck in the film.
Tribes of women out for a ladies' night or a few others dragging their dates into ROUGH NIGHT might do well to lubricate themselves with a few drinks before sitting through this forgettable movie. Though some might argue it is "funny enough" it fails to really commit to be something that could be far better--despite the talent involved and the premise it creates. For all the crap this movie throws at the wall to see what sticks, the audience might also do well to duck from time to time so you don't have to wash the stink off later. ROUGH NIGHT? Yes, it was.