The entire cast of Rough Night should form a comedy troupe and develop a sketch comedy show for Comedy Central. This hilarious ensemble crafts wildly entertaining bits. Crafting a finely tuned 90 minute movie?
Not so much.
But hold on. The number one goal of a comedy should be to make the audience laugh. Rough Night made me laugh. I laughed frequently. Good job team. A 5-star review! But wait. The number one goal of a movie should be to tell an engaging story. Rough Night didn’t do that at all. A no-star review!
The plot easily fits into one sentence. A woman who used to party in college, but doesn’t party anymore, hesitantly agrees to meet her old party friends in Miami for a bachelorette party, a party that quickly gets out of hand when the friend she’s growing apart from the most accidentally kills a diamond thief who is mistakenly identified as a stripper and who’s bloody death sends the friends into a panic resulting in a contaminated crime scene and the need to dispose of the body until other diamond thieves show up but are defeated by friendship and the woman’s fiance who’s driven to Miami in a fury due to misinterpreting a previous phone call.
No one said it couldn’t be a run-on sentence. Oh, and spoiler alert.
But honestly, I don’t care that I just told you the plot. The plot is easily the worst part of Rough Night. The plot is unoriginal and lazy. The plot exists solely to connect funny scenes. The lack of cleverness in exposition turns the pacing into a slog. Twists are telegraphed from miles away. Foreshadowing has the subtly of a drag queen’s eye shadow.
Luckily the comedy is genuinely funny. Each character showcases a unique style and timing. Jillian Bell is brilliantly obtuse. Ilana Glazer is wonderfully oblivious. Kate McKinnon is deliciously absurd. Zoe Kravitz and Scarlett Johansson are… not as funny. But to be fair, they are both designated to the role of straight man– I mean straight woman– I mean straight person but not the kind of straight that implies any sort of constraint to normalized heterosexual roles.
Another huge comedic standout is… honestly, I don’t know his name. He plays the personal trainer in Broad City, the one who Abby crushes on. That guy. He plays Scarlett Johansson’s fiance and is to thank for maybe the funniest scene in Rough Night. I may never be able to clean the car windshield again without snickering.
But not every comedic bit is top-notch. There are a few that left me indifferent. And the scene in which Phil Dunphy watches G.I. Jane perform oral sex on Lenny Kravitz’s daughter was weird and full of uncomfortable undertones. But hey, comedy is hard. It’s unfair to expect a perfect game.
But fuck it. We should expect perfection in our movies. We don’t need to penalize movies for not always reaching perfection, but to give passes only encourages the behavior. I am able to overlook imperfections if I am able to get a true sense that the filmmakers were really striving for something unique, if every angle was approached with passion.
The comedy in Rough Night was a direct beneficiary from the filmmakers’ passion. This is a very funny movie. I laughed aloud multiple times. That earns my respect. I’m usually more of a quickly chuckler. But Rough Night coaxed some solid laughs out of me.
I just wish the team behind the movie put more passion into the actual story of the movie. Rough Night is a mish-mash of Very Bad Things and The Hangover, but more contrived.