'Rough Night' review: More exhausting than fun

"We've got to do this for womankind!"

The bold statement declared by Jess (Scarlett Johansson) while rooting for her best friend Alice (Jillian Bell) who holds the key to winning a game of beer pong against their male opponents finds very little meaning in Lucia Aniello's Rough Night, a film that seems to be meant to be a female-driven reiteration of the nonsensical plot and raunchy pleasures of Todd Phillips' The Hangover.

Weekend of debauchery

Photo courtesy of Columbia Pictures

Ten years after their drunken victory, Jess and Alice reunite with other friends for a weekend of debauchery in Miami to celebrate Jess' upcoming marriage.

But the weekend doesn't turn out as planned when a stripper they hired accidentally dies, leading to a sequence of events which are supposedly hilarious but are really exhaustingly redundant.

Aniello peppers her film with interesting scenarios that force the fact that this is a farce fueled by distinctly feminine desires. It is most clever when it distinguishes itself by maximizing its mostly female cast to comically banter and ramble about exaggerations of their needs as women. Rough Night, however, falls into the trap of abandoning the perspective that makes it somewhat unique to go for more plebian humor.

 

Comedic turn

Johansson's comedic turn is mostly successful. While she is certainly not the funniest of the bunch, she grounds the film's ludicrousness with some manner of dignity, or whatever the actress has that remains intact after all of the film's embarrassing schemes.

Photo courtesy of Columbia Pictures

Rough Night's saving grace is Kate McKinnon, who plays the Australian other-best-friend who starts out innocently disrupting the group's mechanics before turning into the kookiest member of the band. She uplifts most of the scenes she's in, livening up the film when it gets too bland or its very familiar jokes start to fizzle. Sadly, she eclipses most of the other supporting characters, turning them into staple stereotypes whose attempts to add hilarity to the feature are hit-or-miss.

Chemistry is important in these kinds of films and Aniello is just unable to sustain that chemistry throughout. Midway, the rapport between the characters falls apart, leading to an experience that is more exhausting than anything.

Vulgarity and goofiness

Photo courtesy of Columbia Pictures

All in all, Rough Night offers really nothing more than just the same vulgarity and goofiness that films that follow the same formula of supposedly fun nights with friends unexpectedly turning awry.The film's effect as a whole falls flat of its loftier motivations. – Rappler.com 

 

Francis Joseph Cruz litigates for a living and writes about cinema for fun. The first Filipino movie he saw in the theaters was Carlo J. Caparas' 'Tirad Pass.' Since then, he’s been on a mission to find better memories with Philippine cinema.