The new female buddy flick Rough Night — co-written with Paul W. Downs (who also appears) and directed by Lucia Aniello — aspires to be a female The Hangover, and while it has a few, er, killer moments, it winds up being more like Weekend at Bernadette's.
Jess (a presumably well-paid Scarlett Johnansson) is getting married to the nerd of her dreams (Downs) and nearing the end of a grueling political campaign. Inexplicably, the workaholic agrees to go off on a sinful bachelorette party weekend in SoBe organized by her clingy former college roomie Alice (Jillian Bell, who feels like the poor woman's Rebel Wilson here), accompanied by her Australian (why?) pal Pippa (Kate McKinnon) and their ex-couple girlbuds Blair (Zoë Kravitz, now playing a stuck-up New York society lady) and Frankie (Ilana Glazer, playing someone who owns her own megaphone).
Note: As a companion told me, seeing all the bachelorette accoutrements can be triggering if you're a gay man sick of those gatherings invading your bars.
After snorting all the coke they can find and making fools of themselves in a club (kinda stupid if you're running for office already, but it gets worse), they retreat to Jess's only big-bucks donor's borrowed beachhouse, where they await the arrival of a male stripper. When a sexy dude with a nipple ring arrives (Ryan Cooper), he is promptly accidentally killed by Alice's big-framed horniness.
Yes, Colton Haynes and his G-string are in the movie. (Images via Columbia Pictures)
Instead of reacting in one of several ways that should cover how anyone would react in this situation, the girls begin moving the corpse around the entirely glass house, eventually going through a couple of mind-bogglingly improbable body-dumping scenarios. Seriously, couldn't Terry Kiser at least have shown up as a passer-by?
Adding insult to injury, an awkward phone call leads Jess's fiancé, at the urging of his amusingly effete bros, to decide he has to drive overnight to get to Jess, believing she has broken off their engagement; screwball comedy used to be so much easier before having to figure out how to explain things in the age of cellphones and Facebook and security cameras.
Of course, everything is going to work out in the end, one way or another.
Until that happens, Rough Night reveals itself to be one of those movies you just have to be in the mood for and go with. Comedy-wise, it is lazily written, opting for occasionally funny, blurted-out vulgarities more often than wit, which is not completely absent; Glazer has her moments caricaturing PC earnestness and McKinnon, frustratingly not as on the mark as usual, is always good for some funny choices. Overall, the actors are likable enough to make you root for them.
You'll laugh, but the movie could've been so much funnier, as a few dorkily funny passages suggest. The problem seems to be that the script peddles shockingly weird situations, and yet the actors often come off as slightly too embarrassed or inhibited to really let go and be absurdly funny. Cases in point, a head-scratching diaper run that makes zero sense and Ty Burrell and Demi Moore as lecherous, threeway-seeking neighbors whose indecent proposal to Kravitz should be hysterically funny but comes off as labored and icky.
I enjoyed myself during the movie, and there are some gay-positive chuckles, too, but surely it's a bad sign when a dark comedy has to resort to meth humor to kick things up a notch.
Rough Night goes down easier than a stripper with a head wound, but isn't nearly as impactful; you'll forget it as soon as it's over. If you're in the mood for a dumb comedy, you could do worse. If you're in the mood for a female-centric, laugh-out-loud, Bridesmaids-type experience, just watch Bridesmaids again.
Rough Night opens June 16.