By Chris Campo
I don't think I'm alone when I say I was not impressed with the trailers for Sony's latest comedy, Rough Night. It looked like The Hangover with women but half as funny. I hated seeing that trailer before every damn movie I saw. To add to that, I am not a fan of Kate McKinnon or Jillian Bell, and here, they're two of the leads. However, I gave it a shot on a boring, rainy day and I must admit, I left surprised. Pleasantly surprised. The jokes in the trailer work way better in the film, and performances I wasn't looking forward to seeing took me by surprise.
Rough Night follows the weekend long bachelorette party of bride-to-be Jess (Scarlett Johansson), which, as you can probably guess, ends up being rather... rough. She meets up in Miami with her college roommate Alice (Jillian Bell), two of her college best friends who also used to date (Ilana Galzer & Zoe Kravitz), and much to the dismay of Alice, Jess' newest friend she met on a trip to Australia, Pippa (Kate McKinnon). While high on cocaine the first night of the trip, they have the idea to hire a stripper. When he arrives, the girls end up killing him by jumping on his body, knocking him over and slamming his head into the corner of a desk. Now, the five friends must attempt to dispose of the body before word gets out about their accidental murder.
Before I discuss what I liked and didn't like about this film, let me put a blanket statement over my opinion: This movie is funny. It's a comedy with consistent laughs, making a much funnier film than I anticipated. There are genuine big laughs here. Although it's not a perfect film, I just wanted to cut to the chase and say if you are looking for quick laugh in the theatres this summer, look no further. Compared to recent comedy Baywatch, this movie is Citizen Kane. I should also be noted that, in my opinion, this is the funniest female-led comedy since Bridesmaids. Is it a better film? No, but you will laugh.
The first act of this thing is your run-of-the-mill comedy, opening with character introductions as they arrive at their destination and things start out happy and fun. It's fine, it takes a while to get to the actual plot, but the cast and their instantly dynamite chemistry kept me tuned into the film early on. The jokes aren't funny all the time, you don't get the big laughs until the murder of the stripper in the second act, but they're there and they work. The film becomes considerably darker, but it never feels grim. It very confidently tells its wacky story. The third act unfortunately falters with a few shoehorned twists that take the unbelievable nature of the film up a notch. It was rather annoying. Not to mention you know exactly how this film is going to end moments before certain things are revealed. The film's final joke, however, is quite funny.
As I have hinted at, the cast is what really shines. They all feel real, which was nice, and their sisterly love is felt. I'd be lying if I said a scene between them towards the end wasn't heartwarming. I think the standout of the bunch is Zoe Kravitz. She has a scene where she has to seduce a couple to distract them and it's gold. Scarlett Johansson is fine, she plays it straight throughout most of the film which is a little disappointing, but it makes sense for her character. It was a little hard to believe that she could be so easily convinced to snort cocaine, but oh well. I was also surprised by how much Kate McKinnon made me laugh. KcKinnon has been my least favorite part of most films she's in, and I was worried she'd overcook her Australian accent, but no. She was refreshingly restrained and had some of the film's biggest laughs.
On the contrary, Jullian Bell still annoys the shit out of me. Throughout 22 Jump Street, Office Christmas Party and Fist Fight she plays an overly-concerned, loud and annoying character, and in Rough Night, she's at her most tolerable, but still fits in the typecast. There's one performance in the film I'm still quite torn on, and that's Paul W. Downs, who plays Johansson's groom. He's also the co-writer. You can tell he wrote the film because every ten minutes he finds it necessary to cut back to his ridiculous adventures. We cut to him six or seven times throughout the film and it almost always grinds the story to a halt. Maybe 3 of these sequences were funny, plus you can totally call what role his character will play once he finds his way into the third act. It was nice seeing one of my favorite comedians Bo Burnham pop up in a handful of these sequences, though.
Sure, maybe the film's opening drags and feels done to death. And maybe the third act and its story revelations are predictable and at times a bit frustrating. But at the end of the day, this is a fun, hilarious comedy that will make you laugh. When a comedy is funny, I will walk out ready to forgive most of the flaws, to a certain extent. Not all jokes hit, but no comedy bats a thousand. These woman are seriously funny and I ended up leaving the theater glad I sat in on their adventures for ninety minutes. Give the film a shot if it's a rainy day and you want a few laughs. Trust me, you could do worse.
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