I should preface this review by saying I’m unnecessarily harsh in critiquing comedies. I just expect all movies I see to have a decent plot, a conclusive ending, and some form of character development, but I think for most comedies I really just need to ask myself, “Did it make me laugh?” Because that’s really all this movie wanted me to do, and I have to say, I laughed a lot. But was that enough?
Rough Night is not a movie that’s going to be lasting in memory or written about in any books, but it was a fun romp that gave me a lot of laughs in the first two acts. The story and the laughs definitely died out in the last act, but not enough for me to say I hated it. I had irrationally high hopes for this film, and at the very least I can say they weren’t dashed.
The biggest complaint I have is that it didn’t really take any risks. The film followed a standard bachelorette-party-gone-wrong storyline. There were plenty of funny moments, but nothing necessarily new. The cast was littered with recognizable faces, but their characters never offered any of them an opportunity to display much of their talents. We have the part of the bride (played by a straight-laced Scarlett Johansson), the old best friend (Jillian Bell) who was jealous of the new best friend (Kate McKinnon), and two other characters that are just kind of… also there (Ilana Glazer and Zoe Kravitz).
Kate McKinnon’s outrageous Australian party girl unquestionably delivered the majority of the laughs, so the other characters almost felt superfluous. Zoe Kravitz’ limited screen time felt like she was only there to round out the numbers, and Scarlett Johansson followed too closely to the straight man trope. They meet up, go out, have some shenanigans, go home, and things start to go very wrong after one of them accidentally kills a stripper. A plot we’ve seen before, to be sure, but it is one that can be relied upon for some easy humor. And the humor did flow naturally and consistently for the majority, but I’d be lying if I said I laughed through to the end.
I’m going to go ahead and call right now that this movie deserves to make more than it will, but the marketing for it was just atrocious. I thought this movie was going to be bigger than it was, since for the last two months I’d witnessed heavy YouTube advertisements (as I don’t watch cable); much to my surprise, as I was speaking to people about it on opening day, not a single person acknowledged it’s prior existence, forget about actually wanting to see it. I understand that advertisements are geared to their audience, but if nobody’s heard of the damn thing how can you expect anyone to go see it? This film deserved better.
Writer/Director Lucia Aniello is surely best known for the offbeat comedy Broad City (also starring Ilana Glazer), which happens to be one of my favorite shows. I do not believe this movie is up to the standards of that show, but it gets the job done. If all you’re looking for is a laugh, you might as well throw it on. There are certainly better comedies, but there are certainly worse ones, too.
At the end of the day I’m not going to be able to argue that you’d be better served seeing it in theaters. If this films not your style I wouldn’t recommend incurring more than the standard rental fee, however, do yourself a favor and at least catch it when it’s out on RedBox. It won’t be a movie you regret watching, but it’s also not anything you need to see. 2.9/5 stars.