Remember Bridesmaids? Director Paul Feig’s hilarious and smart 2011 comedy with Kristen Wiig, Melissa McCarthy, and Maya Rudolph pulled in almost $300 million worldwide and currently enjoys a 90% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. It was the perfect response to the bro-tastic The Hangover, proving that women can be just as debauched and wild-n-crazy as the boys.
Rough Night ain’t no Bridesmaids.
Instead we get a plodding, largely unfunny mess that is so full of incomprehensible plot points that you’ll wish you had some hard drugs yourself, just so you could black out and forget most of it ever happened.
Directed by frequent Broad City helmer Lucia Aniello and co-written by her and Paul W. Downs, Rough Night is part Weekend at Bernie’s, part Very Bad Thingsbut mostly just a stupid retread of, yes, The Hangover.
Scarlett Johansson stars as Jess, an aspiring state senator who, ten years after graduation, is heading down to Miami for her bachelorette party thrown by her freshman-year roommate Alice (Jillian Bell), an insufferable hanger-on who never met a penis joke or narcotic she didn’t like. They’re joined by fellow college buddies Frankie (Ilana Glazer) and Blair (Zoe Kravitz) and also Pippa (Kate McKinnon), an Australian Jess met during a semester abroad.
After a night on South Beach that involves cocaine, vomit, and a god-awful dance routine, the women head back to their rental house and wait for the stripper Frankie has ordered. Shortly after he arrives, though, Alice jumps on him, causing him to fall backward and split his head wide open, killing him instantly.
The entire rest of the movie is nothing more than an un-comedy of errors as the women try to get rid of the body and absolve themselves of the crime.
A sex swing, penis-adorned sunglasses, and a jet ski figure prominently, as does an insipid free-love couple, played by Demi Moore and Ty Burrell. After each wrong choice the women make (and they make nothing but wrong choices), they get further and further into trouble, to the point where you may actually find yourself actively rooting against them, just so the whole ordeal can finally end.
At the same time Jess’s fiance Peter (Downs) is facing down his own demons as he speeds toward Miami to salvage his engagement. Adult diapers and generic Russian amphetamines are the order of the day for him. Funny? Not even a little.
There are plenty of moments where Rough Night offered up some glimpses of potential, but the script is just so entirely lazy that the movie goes from annoying to downright frustrating in no time at all. And the fact that Aniello and Downs seem to have been hell-bent on stuffing in every single lewd, lascivious, and otherwise obscene “joke” they could think of doesn’t do anything but elicit eye-rolls after the twentieth or thirtieth time.
Johannson is horribly mis-cast in her first true attempt at comedy, and Bell becomes little more than the poster child for world’s worst friend; even a third-act attempt at redemption falls flat. Rough Night’s lone bright spot is McKinnon, who is just loopy enough to make her performance work, thankfully injecting some life and laughs into the film.
The balance of Rough Night, though, is a rough night at the movies indeed—an over-the-top attempt to give ladies a reason to hit the theaters with their BFFs for a hilarious evening out. Instead they’ll be looking to take a couple aspirin to cure their own hangover.