In large measure decidedly unfunny, Rough Night is a lame version of Weekend At Bernie’s crossed with The Hangover and Bridesmaids. Sorry to say, but its attempt to be edgy largely fails.
Ten years ago five young women were college buddies, but a decade later they have all gone their separate ways. Scarlett Johansson plays Jess Thayer, who has dedicated her life to public service and has designs on becoming a politician. But she is also about to get married and the friends from way back decide to throw her a weekend hens’ party. They go wild, do coke and kill somebody … and that is only the start.
In tow are Pippa (Kate McKinnon), Jess’ eccentric mate from a semester Down Under and Alice (Jillian Bell), her overly possessive friend, who mistakenly thinks she is still Jess’ bestie. Then there’s Frankie (Ilana Glazer), the activist frequently at odds with the law and Blair (Zoë Kravitz), the most straight-laced of the group. The pair used to be an item.
Paul W. Downs plays Jess’ doting fiancé, Peter; who is happy to be in the background, supporting her political ambitions. Demi Moore and Ty Burrell assume the personas of a Miami couple on the prowl looking to swing.
To say that I struggled greatly with the material is an understatement. I thought the first half-hour was positively dreadful. The actors tried to create laughs and mayhem, but failed miserably. At that point, I was fearful that the nothingness I had experienced would simply continue.
Fortunately, the picture kicked up a gear when the ladies managed to snuff out a character, who played a “stiff” for the rest of the film. That created a modicum on interest. The word modicum is entirely appropriate, because as a vehicle it too wore decidedly thin.
Somehow before Rough Night was all over though, a few extra surprises and contrived comic forays hit more of a positive note (although, only just). And fortunately the flimsy plot did somehow all come together, even though I was not convinced it would. Johansson looks decidedly uncomfortable in the lead role and I am not just talking about the character she played.
Overall then, I am therefore giving Rough Night less than faint praise. It certainly does not deserve a pass mark. If though, against my advice, you decide to see it, remember to stay on until the very last frames, when there is a plot reveal. Rated MA, it scores a 3 out of 10.
Director: Lucia Aniello
Cast: Scarlett Johansson, Kate McKinnon, Zoë Kravitz, Jillian Bell, Ilana Glazer
Release Date: 15 June 2017
Rating: MA 15+
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David Edwards is the editor of The Blurb and a contributor on film and television