Rough Night is a dark comedy film written by Lucia Aniello and Paul W. Downs and directed by Aniello. The film stars Scarlett Johansson as Jess, an aspiring politician who is running for office and goes to Miami for her bachelorette weekend with her college friends Alice (Jillian Bell), Blair (Zoë Kravitz), Frankie (Ilana Glazer) and Pippa (Kate McKinnon). After a night of partying Jess’ friends decided to get her a stripper and the girls return to the home. When the stripper arrives he is accidentally killed and the girls must figure out what to do with his body.
The character that stands out the most is Jess’ fiancé Peter. Unlike most male love interests in films in which the female lead is a workaholic career-woman with little time for much else, he’s not bemoaning that fact or making her feel bad about it. He’s totally understanding and supportive and that’s refreshing. As the film goes on, however, we see that he’s the typical overly sensitive man whose sensitivity comedies play up for laughs. It’s a little emasculating, but there are moments of genuine hilarity that come out of it.
Jess’ best friend and secondary lead character, Alice, is very similar to Pam from the TV show Archer and not because they’re both big women. They share some personality traits like being loud, wild, inappropriate and perpetually horny. She’s the antithesis to Jess’ serious, straight-laced, would-be politician who used to be just as much of a party animal as her. Her over the top personality edges on being insufferable and she’s perhaps too old to be acting the way she does, but she’s ultimately fairly likable. It’s also worth noting that the film doesn’t treat her weight as the butt of a joke.
The other characters, including Johansson’s Jess, are all pretty forgettable. Except perhaps for fake SJW Frankie, whose insistence on making everything a political situation and recitation of internet SJW buzzwords and phrases whilst indulging in the very things she’s speaking out against, grates on the nerves somewhat. But her character is so forgettable that it’s not as annoying as it could be. If it was supposed to be funny, it wasn’t.
The subplot involving Peter is funnier and more entertaining than the main plot with Jess and her friends once the film gets going. Not to say that the main plot is worse than the subplot, it really isn’t. The subplot just brings a bit more of what you’d want out of a comedy. It consistently makes you laugh pretty much every time the film goes back to it. The whole film consistently makes you laugh, in fact, but more so there.
Not all of the jokes land but more often than not they do. It’s a very funny film, certainly funnier than the supposed comedy Baywatch. It elicits actual (sometimes loud) laughter and not just a chuckle. At some points, there are even tears. When it’s not laugh out loud funny, it’s funny in the way that you smile broadly and shake your head at the ridiculous thing that a character is doing or is still doing. The point is, it’s a fun ride.
There is one joke however, about a white police officer that almost shot someone after pulling them over (that person was white) for speeding. Considering everything that has been happening in the U.S. concerning police brutality and the unlawful deaths of Black men at the hands of allegedly trigger happy police officers, the joke was rather tasteless.
The revelation that occurs at the climax of the film is something that the audience should see coming, especially if attention is paid to a particular background detail in the scene in which the stripper arrives. It’s fairly conspicuous so it’s hard to miss and plays into two common tropes with situations like these in film and TV. The expectation is that the revelation will happen there, but it doesn’t happen until nearly the end of the film.
This is not a film that requires outstanding acting performances and there are none here. The actors do competent jobs in their roles. McKinnon, though, is kind of awkward in the way that Saturday Night Live alumni often times are. It makes sense for her character since she is the fifth wheel for a good deal of the film, but it’s cringey in a bad way and not particularly funny. She makes very exaggerated faces and her acting in general is far more exaggerated than the rest of the cast. It feels like she’s trying a little to hard to act and be funny. But you do get used to it.
Rought Night is a very enjoyable, funny and entertaining film. It’s by no means a great film, but you can have fun with it. It’s very much in the vein of films of it’s ilk like The Hangover and Bridesmaids and if you liked those films, you should have no problems watching this.