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WTF was that? (a Rough Night review)

There was one reason and one reason only that I wanted to see Rough Night. Because when I saw Wonder Woman, I saw the trailer literally back to back with the trailer for Girl’s Trip. From the trailers alone, they appear to be literally the exact same movie. Basically “hey, you know The Hangover? We could probably do that with chicks. People would go see that, right?” only for Girl’s Trip someone said “no, not just chicks… black chicks!!!” Other than that… well, honestly they both looked kind of bad.

But I’m ok with bad movies. Sometimes a bad movie can be a good thing. I figured, “let’s just see where that goes.” What’s the worst that could happen?

Well, it wasn’t horrible. I was expecting horrible. It definitely wasn’t horrible. It also wasn’t good. Like at all.

Oddly enough, I did enjoy myself. Steph and I were discussing it afterwards and in terms of the rating system that I discussed the other day we both agree that it’s about the most fun you can possibly make a 2ish★ movie. And there’s a lot of movie here. There really is. So much movie. Like, is there such a thing as too much movie?

Spoiler alert. There is.

I made a point when reviewing Wonder Woman of saying that one of it’s problems was that there were really like three movies going on and it sort of changes each act. I had a similar problem with Batman v. Superman, except I said the plot lines were all mashed together (all six of them). This was like that. In fact, in some ways it was worse. One of the first things you learn when you take a creative writing class is that good writing is about making choices: What do you put into your story? And just as importantly (maybe more so) what do you leave out? It really doesn’t feel like there were any choices made in this film. Every idea that could be used just is.

There is so much going on. Its hard to even nail the film down as to what genre it is. It wants to be The Hangover for women (and even alludes to this directly in it’s advertising material). It wants to be a female empowerment comedy like Bridesmaids (again, often alluded to in the advertising material). And if you’ve seen any other reviews of it, you might know that it wants to be a black comedy in the vein of Very Bad Things (not really in the advertising material, but it pretty much steals the base premise directly from that film — also Very Bad Things is an amazing movie, so you should see it). But it doesn’t stop there. It also wants to be stoner comedy. It wants to be a mystery. It wants to be a gross out comedy. It wants to be a fun but generic heteronormative romcom, but it also wants to be a socially cognizant LGBTQ romcom. It wants to send a message of female empowerment through friendship and sisterhood and oddly enough it also wants to present the problems of female relationships and growing up in a serious interpersonal drama. It wants to present a message of the intricacies of reconciling racial, gender and sexual identities, particularly for individuals who don’t sit strongly in the stereotypical bounds of racial and sexual archetypes. Most of all, it wants to be a vehicle for Scarlet Johansson to show the public that she can be a comedic actress.

Unfortunately, it floats back and forth between all of these things approximately every ten seconds. It’s somewhat hard to get a foothold on what it wants to be when. The film will move from comedic farce to melodrama at the snap of a finger and then move on just as quickly. While Johansson is the star, it really doesn’t quite give her the time or space to shine as a comedienne because there’s both too much going on and she is somewhat overshadowed by the much funnier supporting actresses (notable Kate McKinnon, Ilana Glazer and Jillian Bell) that she has surrounded herself with (the fifth lead is Zoe Kravitz… she’s fine, but unlike the other’s she doesn’t quite have the comedic acting chops to outshine Johansson yet). The film is also crowed by Demi Moore and Ty Burrell, who similarly are just so good at over-the-top comedy that Johansson just gets lost in her own movie.

Kate McKinnon, in particular shines here. Theoretically, the story positions Bell’s character as the second lead, with McKinnon more intended to be a supporting character. However, as has been evident the last few seasons of Saturday Night Live, she has become such a comedic force that she seems to sort of automatically rise to the top of the cast. If I have a problem with her in this is that, much like I said with my reviews of Ghostbusters(2016) and Office Christmas Party, she is essentially typecast as the same basic over-the-top sketch comedy character she plays on SNL. Now that I’ve seen how much she can really excel at this character, I just really want to see her do something else. She’s at an interesting part of her career. Certainly she’s not going to get cast as the lead in a major blockbuster, but I would love to see her take a stab at being top billed in maybe an indie rom-com or even a drama. I just feel like she has more to offer than the slapstick quirky one-note character with a funny voice who isn’t afraid to overtly sexualize herself at the key moment for a cheap laugh. Basically, I just want to see Kate McKinnon happen (like “Fetch!”). I want her to break out of the SNL mold and become Tina Fey or Amy Poehler not end up going the Molly Shannon route.

Since the movie floats between so many different genres and points so quickly, it kind of fails to do any of them particularly well. They all seem underserved and in a way, superfluous. I can’t really say what should have been dropped because really, the mystery (which is the main “plot” as it were) really doesn’t seem any more or less important than the female friendships or the LGBTQ love story, or the stoner comedy… they just all mash together. It sort of seems like they didn’t have faith in telling one kind of story, so they told 18.

That said, there were good parts. For all the chaos and craziness and lack of direction, I actually quite enjoyed myself. Sure it was predictable and often pointless, but the jokes were well written and I found myself laughing quite often. As long as I was able to tell myself “this doesn’t need to make sense, it doesn’t need to go anywhere and it doesn’t need to be good… just enjoy it for what it is” I was able to have fun. In fact, of recent movies that I’ve been to, I’d say it was actually way more fun than Baywatch (for my sense of humor and enjoyment), even though Baywatch was technically a better movie (and that’s not really praise for either of them).

I can’t really recommend it…. because no matter what you’re wanting out of it… strong female characters, stoner humor, black comedy… you’re going to fell like it only has 10% of what you want and 90% filler with everything else. I just don’t know who this movie is for! BUT, if you’re like me and you’re willing to sit through any movie and find something to think about with it… well, sure… This was probably a clinic on how to make the best movie out a jumbled mess you possibly could. I mean, it’s still a 2★ movie, but it was the best 2★ movie it possibly could be!

And you know…  next weekend I’ll be watching Transformers 5 and you know… that might make this look like Oscarbait!

★★☆☆☆ (2 out of 5 stars)

9 comments for “WTF was that? (a Rough Night review)

  1. avatar
    June 17, 2017 at 9:50 am

    Haha. Clearly, the movie was for those women down below making a racket and enjoying themselves way too much.

    • avatar
      June 17, 2017 at 9:54 am

      Yeah. I should have mentioned that.

      For people who weren’t there:

      There were only like 12 people in the theater. 6 of us were just kinda there watching the movie. The other 6 (middle aged white women sitting below us) seemed to think this was the most orgasmic laughter experience of their lives. I can only assume drugs were involved.

    • avatar
      June 17, 2017 at 1:37 pm

      Chris Maverick Oh, we were all there Mav, we follow you everywhere!

    • avatar
      June 18, 2017 at 11:03 am

      My favorite part was after the movie ended, One of the women stood up with her arms raised in kind of a victory stance and looked around the audience for support. It was odd.

  2. avatar
    June 17, 2017 at 10:59 am

    I wanted to see it, I love VERY BAD THINGS and was Hoping it was close to as good.

    • avatar
      June 17, 2017 at 11:56 am

      It is definitely not as good as Very Bad Things. Without giving spoilers for either film… it uses the same starting premise, but Rough Night doesn’t “commit” to it in the same way.

    • avatar
      June 17, 2017 at 11:58 am

      Gotcha. I’ll kodi it eventually then…like I had planned on doing anything else ?

  3. avatar
    June 18, 2017 at 9:02 am

    Your description of this movie seems like it can also be applied to both “Fast Times at Ridgemont High” and “Dazed and Confused.” Both movies hover between comedy classic and cult classic. I wonder if this movie will garner that same standing in a decade or so.

    • avatar
      June 18, 2017 at 9:09 am

      Which part of my description? I’d actually say those movies are far more cohesive. Certainly fast times is. Dazed and confused less so… but still way more than this.

      There’s nothing wrong with complex plots or multigenre stories. But there needs to be direction and purpose to it.

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