By HEATHER TURK
Front Row Features Film Critic
Part “Bridesmaids,” part “Very Bad Things,” Columbia Pictures’ “Rough Night” never quite reaches the comedic highs of the first film or the twistedness of the latter, but it still delivers plenty of laughs.
While the story is nothing too original, the film’s charismatic cast definitely keeps viewers entertained throughout the R-rated comedy’s 101-minute run time. Co-written by “Broad City’s” Lucia Aniello (who also directed the film) and Paul W. Downs (who also stars in the film), “Rough Night” focuses on four college friends—Jess (Scarlett Johansson, “The Avengers”), Alice (Jillian Bell, “22 Jump Street”), Blair (Zoë Kravitz, the “Divergent” franchise) and Frankie (Ilana Glazer, “Broad City”)—who reunite 10 years after graduation for Jess’ bachelorette party in Miami. While Jess would like to keep the whole affair pretty low-key since she’s running for state senate, Alice is determined to make the weekend one the four best friends will never forget. Joined by Jess’ Australian friend Pippa (Kate McKinnon, “Saturday Night Live”), the five girlfriends hit the town for a wild weekend filled with clubbing, foam parties and lots and lots of cocaine.
Things take a turn for the worse, however, when Frankie books a stripper (Ryan Cooper, “Confess”) to come to their beach abode to dance for Jess and Alice accidentally ends up killing him. Since the house they’re staying in has a lot of glass windows, the girls decide to move the dead body until they can figure out what to do—only to discover later on that by moving the body, they could face a multi-year prison sentence. The situation is further complicated by the arrival of the real stripper Frankie ordered (Colton Haynes, “Arrow”) coming to the house, leaving the girls wondering who exactly they killed and why he showed up and started stripping.
Oddly enough, while “Rough Night” clearly focuses on the bachelorette party from hell, the comedy is far more entertaining when it cuts to the bachelor party Jess’ fiancé Peter (Downs) is having with his friends. A stereotypical role reversal situation of sorts, while the girls are going crazy in Miami, the bros are having a sophisticated bachelor party that’s at its craziest when the wine tasting session the guys are enjoying begins serving “chilled” vino.
When Peter receives a call from a distressed Jess that’s cut short, he’s convinced she’s having second thoughts about the wedding and ends his bachelor party early so that he can drive to Miami (wearing adult diapers, of course, so he won’t need to make too many pit stops) to try to save their relationship before it’s too late.
Naturally, the adult diaper situation pales in comparison to several other zany story points in the film, like Blair having a threesome on the beach with the kinky neighbors (played by “Modern Family’s” Ty Burrell and “Ghost’s” Demi Moore) in an attempt to get them to turn over their security camera footage, which might have caught the friends trying to dump the dead stripper’s body into the water. Still, as crazy as the movie gets, it’s often the little things—like McKinnon’s exaggerated facial expressions and hilarious one-liners—that get the most laughs during the film.
As always, McKinnon steals the show whenever she’s on-screen, most often without even saying a word. Bell, on the other hand, sometimes comes across a bit too annoying. Although the trait fits her character well, audiences may find themselves hoping that the cops end up taking her away.
The rest of the cast fares well with their respective roles, although there’s no one real standout performance like Melissa McCarthy’s in “Bridesmaids” or Zach Galifianakis’ in “The Hangover.” And that’s “Rough Night’s” biggest problem: as entertaining as it is, moviegoers likely will find themselves comparing it to similar movies that came before it that did the whole bachelor/bachelorette/bridal party gone awry storyline better. Nothing in “Rough Night” seems too outrageous after seeing Galifianakis, Ed Helms and Bradley Cooper steal a tiger from Mike Tyson in “The Hangover” or seeing Maya Rudolph relieve herself in the middle of the street while wearing a designer wedding gown in “Bridesmaids.” Sure, the various scenarios in “Rough Night” are funny, but they’re not really shocking.
Nevertheless, like “Bad Moms” before it, “Rough Night” is a great flick for women to enjoy during a girls’ night out. The comedy may not be revolutionary, but it’s entertaining just the same.