Monday 19 June 2017

Film Review: Rough Night

Big budget Hollywood comedies continue their swift spiral into brain-dead stupidity in Rough Night.

Written and directed by the Lucia Aniello, one of the creative minds behind Broad City, Rough Night sees five gal pals band together for a raucous bachelorette party in Miami – however, things take a turn for the morbid when the stripper they order mistakenly ends up dead at their hand. 

What follows is a freewheeling series of events that sees the quintet of girls – comprising of bride-to-be Jess (Scarlett Johansson), clingy best friend Alice (Jillian Bell), prissy corporate type Blair (Zoe Kravitz), rebellious activist (Ilana Glazer) and kooky Australian Pippa (Kate McKinnon) – attempt to dispose of the body and cover their tracks.

Rough Night is less a film and more another chapter in Hollywood’s increasingly ludicrous game of one-upmanship with itself through raunchy R-rated comedies. It’s a patchwork quilt of ideas borrowed from The Hangover, Bridesmaids and Weekend at Bernie’s that was been fed into an everlasting gobstopper machine and spat out and shipped off to cinema screens. 

Comedies need to achieve two things; firstly, they need to be funny. And secondly, they need to anchor everything by making you feel something. Rough Night fails on both accounts. The comedy is neither witty nor original. It’s derivative stuff that comes across as the poorer version of the likeminded films it’s trying to replicate. And the serious stuff? Woof. I don’t know what angle the filmmakers were aiming for when it comes to the earnest character stuff, but they really struggle to find any resonant through-line to tie it all together. 

In fact, the whole film is so scatterbrained that it feels like a first draft that sat on the shelf for a few years before being hastily raced through shooting. Tonally, it’s a mess, veering from Bad Neighbours levels of vulgarity and boisterousness to tired slapstick and ham-fisted sincerity. 

Technically, it’s procedural stuff that doesn’t do anything remotely interesting – I’m so tired so seeing characters walk in slow motion and trying to look cool while a recent rap/club track plays in the background. It’s boring, unoriginal and lazy, just like Baywatch was last month and Chips was the month before that. What happened to clever and original comedies?

It’s disappointingly derivative, unnecessarily crass and just plain forgettable. For the amount of talent involved, it’s surprising just how throwaway this film is, from the run-of-the-mill plot to the cookie-cutter characters and the directionless plot that finds itself in a worthless dead-end on a couple of occasions. Plus, it features possibly the worst Australian accent – courtesy of McKinnon – ever committed to film. For that reason alone, you should give Rough Night a hard pass.

The Verdict: 4/10

Rough Night is like a really shit party you soon come to regret; everyone is too eager to impress, no-one knows when to call it a night and you end up feeling infinitely worse the next day, resenting a lot of memories you wish you could erase.

Rough Night is in cinemas across Australia now.

This review was originally published over at Hooked on Film, a Perth based website where you can find even more new release movie reviews, features, interviews and insight. Click here to check it out.

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