‘Rough Night’ is a rough bit of manic chaos

‘Rough Night’ could’ve been this summer’s comedy, but unfortunately it’s not

If movies were reviewed like roller coasters, starting from the bottom and then working up its momentum to a big finish, ‘Rough Night’ scores big. Unfortunately, in this case, starting too low leaves this movie’s high notes feeling like a mediocre kiddy ride.

‘Rough Night,’ directed by Lucia Aniello, is a movie that was prophesied for greatness, starring Scarlett Johansson as Jess, a 30-something-year-old who has left her years of college partying behind, instead choosing to settle down with her fiancé Peter, played by Paul. A. Downs. Her college roommate Alice, played by Jillian Bell, seeks to get her to relive their college glory days, scheduling a bachelorette getaway in Miami with their old group of gal pals including former lovers Blair and Frankie, played by Zoë Kravitz and Ilana Glazer respectively. Together this band, along with Kate McKinnon’s, Pippa, Jess’s Australian semester abroad mate, are in for an exhausting weekend of drugs, drama and accidental, hormone-induced homicide.

While the intriguing premise (especially the bit involving murder) is enough to draw any curious soul to the box office, the movie’s first act doesn’t do much to hold the audience’s attention. Between developing multiple sub-plots, characters whose awkwardness falls short of humor and lands squarely on cringe-worthy, and random bits of true humor that throw the pace off kilter, it’s hard to tell where the film is going.

This weakness largely falls on the shoulders of film’s lead. While Johansson's Black Widow's sense of self, bravery, honor code, and sheer amount of super-spy-suaveness are enough to keep this Marvel fan rooting in her corner (and pioneering for the solo-film Marvel fans have asked for), Jess’s awkward, unconfident and general lack of finesse are heightened by Johansson’s inability to really pull the character off.

The film finally finds it’s footing once the stripper-for-hire falls flat on the job (literally) and the drug-induced hilarity, sub-plots and acting (most importantly the acting) finally begin to flow with the natural rhythm and smoothness that today’s modern comedies deliver on.

It’s in the film’s final acts where the story, same-sex romance, plays on gender stereotyping and well-timed comedy got the attention they deserved. The only shame is in how long it takes to get there.

What aims to be another movie proving that putting women in the center stage of a comedy can compete against its male competitors, ends up being an underwhelming, rough bit of manic chaos, ultimately leaving its audience with a bad high.

Overall score: 2/5 stars


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