Seen 30th June
Picture it, Sicily 1998. A little film called Very Bad Things was released. In it, a prostitute is accidentally killed during a bachelor party and everyone loses their minds. This film asks the question “So what if we did almost exactly that, but changed all the genders”. Turns out, you get… well… meh.
Rough Night follows Jess (Played pretty well by Scarlett Johansson) and her old college friends, along with one random aussie she sent time with during a year overseas, as the 5 of them try to have the best bachelorette weekend ever. Unfortunately for them, the stripper they hire ends up accidentally getting killed during a fatal lap dancing accident and they have the unfortunate task of having to hide the body. It’s a pretty standard plot line by now, having to deal with a surprising death is weirdly a comedy genre of its own at this point. In terms of how they go with that plot for the most part they follow all the beats and they handle it well.
The cast in general is good, it’s kinda refreshing having a film lead by a cast of 5 women and all 5 of them really do well with the characters that they’ve been given. Sadly, what they’ve been given isn’t exactly new. They all fall into some extreme cliche, Jess being the overbearing working woman, Alice (Jillian Bell) is the borderline stalkery best friend, Blair (Zoe Kravitz) is the spoiled rich bisexual, Frankie (Ilana Glazer) is the hippie lesbian and Pippa (Kate McKinnon) is Australian and that’s it. They don’t feel like characters, they feel like random traits were plucked out of a bag and given sentience. They’re well played by the actors who take on the parts, don’t get me wrong. They just don’t feel like actual characters.
In fact, just curious, have the writers of this movie ever actually met an Australian? Because it feels like they just checked on Wikipedia for some basic info and stopped reading after the general description. While Kate McKinnon steals this movie with everything she does, she’s playing an SNL caricature of an Australian and not a woman named Pippa who happens to be from Australian. I’m just saying that if your opening introductory joke about an Australian character is “I have Vegemite”, you need to go back to the drawing board and try again.
I do like that this is one of the few movies that I’ve seen that has a couple of bisexual characters in it. Blair starts the movie being shown to be recently divorced from a man who we see for about 10 seconds and it’s clearly just cos he’s an asshole. It’s refreshing that they just made it happen. They also made Demi Moore’s character bisexual but her character is also effectively pointless. Her’s and Ty Burrell who plays her husband, they also happen to be in an open marriage, insane sex maniacs and literally stop appearing in the movie the second their plot cul-de-sac is over. If you cut them from the film, you lose nothing except 1 lesbian kiss and a very strange sex scene on the beach. No plot points, no real laughs, they’re there for one thing and then they’re gone.
Honestly for the first half of the movie it’s not bad, in fact it’s kind of fun how they handle this dead stripper situation. It’s when the actual stripper turns up that everything kinda goes haywire. This is the opposite problem that I had earlier in the year with Life. with Life the first bulk of the movie felt kinda simple but the ending was awesome, but here it’s the beginning that’s really good and the rest is just not great. It’s not bad, you won’t be suffering through the movie or anything like that, but there are moments when you will silently mutter “Everyone here is going to jail” and be annoyed when they don’t. It’s not going to change the world, but it does have a lot of good moments that just happen to be surrounded by a lot of average ones.