Sometimes the night doesn’t go quite as planned and you end up killing a man. If this shocks you into nervous, curious laughter, then Rough Night is the movie you’ve been waiting for. It’s a last hurrah with double the strippers, bendy straws in colourful drinks, and pink decorative sashes for all. It’s the kind of night where “going to powder my nose” is code for another round of cocaine. Not all bachelorette weekends are equal, and we should thank our lucky stars for that.
Political campaigns are marathons, so it can be tough to find time for oneself. Luckily, Jess (Scarlett Johansson) has her old college friends to pull her out of the office for one last wild weekend. Alice (Jillian Bell) steps up as the eternal best friend and plans a weekend they will never forget. She reunites the old gang including friends/ex-lovers Blair (Zoë Kravitz) and Frankie (Ilana Glazer), and grudgingly invites Jess’ Australian BFF Pippa (Kate McKinnon) to partake in the celebrations. Alice’s destination of choice is a glass house on South Beach, Miami which she appropriately stocks with pink bathrobes and plastic wangs. Everything is planned by the minute, but the gang barely make it past Step 2: The Club before things start sliding off schedule. Frankie takes inspiration from the weekend’s theme and calls for a stripper, much to Jess’ squeamishness. The man arrives, he does a little dance, Alice passionately launches herself at him, and he suffers a fatal blow to the head. Woops. The girls, a little high on coke and pizza, spend the rest of the night discussing which actions will result in the softest prison sentense.
While Jess and her girls are tossing bodies in the ocean and bleaching bath towels, her fiancé and his boyz are making memories of their own at the bachelor party. If you think Jess’ night is crazy, try a private wine tasting. The emotional journey of Peter (Paul W. Downs), the fiancé, is the elastic to Rough Night’s morning newspaper. Due to one poorly-timed phone call, Peter is convinced that Jess wants to cancel the wedding. His bros inspire Peter to strap on a few diapers and drive non-stop to Florida to win her back. Gender stereotypes aside, Peter is an emotional train wreck who will do anything to win back the woman everyone believes is out of his league, including speeding across state lines, pounding back Adderall like tick tacks, and calling Jess every two minutes to leave another carefully veiled message of desperation. What he doesn’t know is that Jess is presently stuffing a deceased stripper in the closet with the sex swing.
That’s the premise. Now since Rough Night is a comedy we have to follow the rules and compare it to every similarly-themed comedy of the last 10 years. So…
…Rough Night is like a female Hangover. There are drugs, strangers, the threat of prison and, worse, the possibility of a cancelled wedding. It’s all wrapped up with some hot people who do weird things for their friends. Differently, Rough Night trades the armoured hummers for a surprise smart car because crisis or no crisis, the environment is a top priority.
…It’s easy to see Rough Night as a prequel to Bridesmaids. Women will be girls and it takes 90 minutes of scream time (at the very least) for everyone to agree that a bride can have two best friends. Rough Night also gives a similarly strong impression that a lot of the dialogue is improvised, SNL-style.
But the story really is focused on what to do with the body and how long each of them will spend in jail. The more brilliant the plan, the worse the night gets. It’s a good thing Rough Night is a movie and not an episode of CSI or else we’d have a different impression of the foolproof ideas made at 3:00 am with a pocket full of cocaine. Rough Night wraps up almost too neatly – like those suspiciously colour-coordinated craft rooms you see in home magazines. All it takes is a lucky twist of fate and ScarJo pulling a little Black Widow out of her bride-to-be-bathrobe.
As someone who is in high-tide bachelorette season, I found Rough Night totally hilarious. It’s a bit like watching a puppet show with A-listers. I laughed at the ridiculous shenanigans and sat patiently through the many feelings yelled across the room. Kate McKinnon is crucial to keeping the mood in firm comedy mode without going into over-acted parody territory. Rough Night could use a few more excursions rather than all the time spent hiding in the glass living room. But all in all I found it easily funny and surprisingly relatable – minus the dead guy, of course. It’s a laughable but borderline stupid 6/10.