Directed by Lucia Aniello (2017)
by Jaime Davis, The Fixer
There is nothing quite like the female rite of passage that is The American Bachelorette Party, right? And what's better than actually going to an actual bachelorette party than watching Hollywood's version of a bachelorette party? I mean, they've got this shit down to a motherfucking science: you got your girls, you got your bandage dresses, your fuck me heels, da club, your ever-flowing goblets of yes way rosé (or whatever femme drink is hot at the time, see also: appletinis, cosmos), penis accessories fah dayz, oily bohunk strippers, etc., ad nauseam. We know this is not everyone's version of a bachelorette - yeah, I've been to some that felt very "standard" in the traditional sense. But more often than not, the bachelorettes I've been to reflected the personality of the bachelorette in question. And that's where I tend to get a little peeved about Rough Night...because the film was co-written and directed by a woman (Lucia Aniello), of Broad City fame, which happens to be one of my favorite shows. So you'd think there'd be a lil' creativity thrown in, you know, just for kicks? You would think a super funny, talented female would be able to turn it out and make this motherfuckin' party hype.
In the case of this film, well...yes and no. Rough Night is different solely because they've taken the standard Dudes-at-a-Bachelor-Party-Get-Into-Trouble film (Very Bad Things, Bachelor Party, all three of them Hangover jawns) and flipped the script simply by inserting women as the protagonists. Audiences tend to love watching girls be bad, which is another main point of reference here (see Mean Girls, The Other Woman, Bad Moms, Neighbors 2, The Sweetest Thing, the upcoming Girls Trip). On the one hand it's cool to see "regular" girls doing bad, or accidental bad...but lazy on the other because male, female, gender non-conforming - we recognize that gender is a construct put upon us, but these labels don't have to define us. Broad City, as a show, typically reflects that, and that's just one of the things I love about it. (Also this). Moral of the story: people got quirks, man. And we don't all necessarily behave in a way society tells us we should. So it's a major bummertits that the characters in Rough Night feel mostly slapped together, one dimensional, flat.
ScarJo (don't make me try and spell her last name!) plays Jess, a straight-laced, overworked, undersexed wannabe senator who's about to marry her weenie of a boyfriend Peter (co-writer Paul W. Downs, who also writes/stars in Broad City). Her best girl friendz, Alice (Jillian Bell), Blair (Zoë Kravitz), Pippa (my future wife Kate McKinnon), and Frankie (Broad City's amazeballs Ilana Glazer), all from her cRaYZeEe college days, put together an epic bachelorette Miami weekend filled with booze, heels, strippers, clubs, and enough penis paraphernalia for like a million other Hollywood bachelorette movies. Jess is running for office, and not really doing a great job at it. She just don't got the kinda time to play around with anything controversial or fun. So the film immediately sets up this conflict with Jess wanting to have good, clean fun which, duh...we know she ain't gonna get to do. It all starts at the airport where they get things poppin' by literally popping open a bottle of champagne that sounds like a gun went off, freaking the entire terminal out in the process. They should have known then that shit was about to get real. And then there's dinner, where Frankie accidentally(?) gets her hands on some coke. It's fun to watch goodie Jess let go and get cray. There's even a dance routine set to Khia's My Neck, My Back, because isn't that the ultimate "bad gal" anthem? (Don't answer that). It's short-lived though, because later that night a stripper mishap goes terribly, fatally wrong and shit gets real real. Then everyone's true colors come out...but I wouldn't call them colors; they're mostly black, white, and gray. These folks aren't necessarily painted in nuanced, colorful strokes.
Meanwhile, Jess' hubs-to-be is celebrating his bachelor party with his best dude friends at a wine tasting in a secluded retreat, of all places. It's an interesting dichotomy, but again, just one where they flip things around for males and females easily and conveniently. It's funny at first but after awhile it just feels unimaginative. A standard check-in call to Jess reveals some dirty went down, but he mistakenly believes she wants to call the wedding off. Cue his dudes giving him a super weird pep talk filled with boyz noize about making grand gestures to win her back. So...Peter ends up driving from wherever da fuq he is on the east coast to Florida in a marathon spree featuring some funny gags involving adult diapers at a convenience store, hustling at a gas station for gas money wearing said adult diapers, and accidentally(?) snorting meth.
Back in Miami, you've got your girls trying, and failing, to dispose of a body, engaging in threesomes with weird neighbors who the gang thinks have incriminating security camera footage (a successfully awkward Demi Moore and Ty Burrell), squabbling with each other over past beefs, and fighting off a gang of "dangerous" jewelry thief baddies. Do I need to tell you if our girls get away with it? Do I need to tell you if Jess and Peter get married? Nah, because the trailer does all that for you. Move along folks, nothing more to see here. Just another standard Hollywood female Friendship is Magic story, wrapped up in an ultra pretty, pink glittery bow at the end.
So that's why Rough Night disappointed me. Not because it's not funny, because it definitely is. But it's just a bunch of the same same and none of that new new, you know? The trailer claims it's funnier than Bridesmaids, but I'm not buying that shit, and neither should you. It definitely has it's great moments - Kate McKinnon's Australian accent is pretty fab, and you know how hard it is to do one of those. There's a really sweet lesbian romance subplot that doesn't necessarily feel like pandering. ScarJo displays some real moments of cute and Jillian Bell is funny as all get out, as per usual. Ultimately Rough Night is just the equivalent of the worst Diplo song you love to hate (but secretly love...and for the record I secretly love Diplo). Or more like the equivalent of that air horn sound - it's funny at first and you're in on the joke but shit gets real repetitive after awhile. Yo girls, I think we can do better than this.