Rough Night

Scarlett Johansson;Kate McKinnon;Jillian Bell;Ilana Glazer;Zoe Kravitz

You guys I liked it. I know it’s terrible and Girls Trip is way better and racism and Hollywood and they killed a fake stripper and all of that, but I still liked it!!

I think this movie was a classic dark comedy (***not a black comedy, that’s Girls Trip***) just maybe people aren’t used to seeing that now? Or there’s a different lens for judgement now that identity politics has taken the forefront as a means of analysis and people consider the implications of plot relying on throwing away certain identities as a joke? Which is all good, but this movie felt pretty self-aware to me. I know a large criticism was that they killed a stripper and how that is a classic devaluing (here’s a good article about this) but the guy they killed wasn’t even a stripper, he was a secret robber coming to hurt them also some of the characters have a conversation about these issues (ok it’s one line but it’s there). I don’t know how much it complicates or ameliorates anything (the detail that he’s not a stripper) and certainly there’s very valid emotions and reactions to objecting to that as even a hint of a plot device/being in the movie at all. But, simply, for me it was ok (just me!!) and I’d recommend watching it before you decide what you think about it. As it often is, comedy is a slippery fish and there’s so much subjectivity within context that affects overall judgements about a joke. ANYWAY–I’m gonna stop being defensive now. I liked it. If you think that makes me a bad person, that’s ok, I still liked it. 

I watched this in two sittings, initially I watched like the first 15-20 minutes and thought it was SHOCKINGLY bad. Like laughably, inexplicably bad. Then when I watched the rest of it, something changed!!! I think after they kill the guy (spoiler alert they kill a guy) the movie really finds itself!!

The main premise is that one of a group of friends (Jess, played by Scarlett Johansson) is getting married so all her friends from college (Jillian Bell as Alice, Zoe Kravitz as Blair, Ilana Glazer as Frankie) and her best friend from studying abroad in Australia (Kate McKinnon as Pippa) organize a bachelorette party in Miami, which includes hiring a stripper. One thing leads to another and wouldn’t you know, they accidentally kill him. They spend the rest of the movie trying to hide/dispose of the body and many hijinks occur.

Some of these hijinks include: the real stripper coming later and getting accidentally knocked out, the other two diamond thieves coming to find the loot their partner stole from them, all of them trying to fit in a jet ski/smart car, Blair having sex on the beach with a horny neighbor couple (played excellently by Demi Moore and Ty Burrell) to steal the security video footage, Jess’ fiancé’s cross country drive to win her back after he misunderstands a phone call, etc. etc. For not leaving their rental beach house for 2/3rds of the movie, a lot is happening.

That scene that happens in all movies where a group has to deal with a lot of stress happened, which is that it takes literal death to get people to open up about their feelings. There’s always a scene in movies like this where the pressure just gets to be TOO much and people start spilling secrets and they saying how they really feel (remember when they thought the plane was crashing in Almost Famous?) which was enjoyable. Maybe it’s because I’m a woman myself, but I love a group of women just laying out all their shit and being honest with each other. In an emotionally tense scene (relatively) we learn that Jess has been lying to Alice about knowing how to use Skype, and had a bridal shower she didn’t invite her to because she feels like Alice monopolizes her time. Alice is very hurt and almost leaves, but then two men with guns come and don’t let her.

They end up resolving it (Jess finds a very sweet card from Alice about how her mom’s Alzheimers will always keep them together) and then they are back, better than ever!

Kate McKinnon comes in after about 15 minutes and makes all the difference. She is so naturally funny. She brings the whole thing together and I think saves everyone. Her character is Australian (an accent she’s really good at) and she is very connected to the Earth and maybe gets rabies at one part, it’s kind of unclear. Kate also has a really beautiful singing voice! Something I didn’t know at all! She writes and sings a song after/during the credits that’s very funny and pretty and I didn’t know she could sing.

Zoe Kravitz is the thinnest most beautiful person in the world and she doesn’t seem real to me. In this movie her character is going through a custody battle and has a lot of orgasms on the beach. She also has an uncle who advises them on the legality of murder. (Not very!)

Ilana Glazer kind of plays the same character she always is, herself. If you love it, you love it, if you find it kind of abrasive and derivative, then it’s that still! I’m somewhere in the middle of those on her- I don’t HATE her, I do think some of it is funny, but she always seems like she JUST did coke and that can be too much for me. Coincidentally in this movie she does a lot of coke. (Also I saw her do stand up and her stand up is truly horrible and that affects my judgement of her probably more than it should, but I can’t change who I am!!!).

Jillian Bell is so underused in the world in general, I think she is hilarious and I’m so happy for her every time I see her in Workaholics or this. She has really perfect timing and her control over her facial expressions is great. She somehow manages to combine masturbating and her bird, which I’m all for. Her character ends up finding the 2 million dollars worth of diamonds the police never found in a box of dick pasta which felt poetic somehow.

Scarlet Johansson hasn’t done a comedic character for a long time (not since The Nanny Diaries right?) and at times this seems a bit of a stretch for her. She does alright but I think out of everyone she has the most misses/jokes that fall flat. Really I will never forgive her for so many roles (Matchpoint?? In Good Company???) and that kind of clouds her for me. She has a short haircut in this, I think to make her look serious because she’s running for political office? Whatever the reason I liked it.

Jess’ fiancé, (Peter played by Paul W. Downs) gets better as the movie goes on. First he seems like a wet blanket and boring, but soon we go to his Bachelor party and you see that he is a wet blanket but that’s kind of his thing. He does a wine tasting with all his friends- who are made up of shockingly obscure and famous comedians (Bo Burnham, Hasan Minhaj, Eric André) who quickly counsel him to drive to Miami and convince Jess to take him back. He gets a lot of Red Bull, some Russian adderall and diapers for the journey (inspired by a woman astronaut who drove many hours straight without stopping to go to the bathroom for love apparently) in a song montaged shopping trip that is quite funny. He also connects two star-crossed lovers at a truck stop who share a love of meth and blowjobs. Peter ends up saving the day then immediately passing out. He and Jess get married the next day with everyone there in the middle of a foam party.

The funniest detail of the whole movie to me was during the final wedding scene, where Scarlett gets a call from her campaign assistant. He relays that word has spread of how she and her friends stopped a group of diamond thieves (the guy they killed was on the run from the cops and they were absolved of any wrong-doing) and that Jess was going to win the election/needed to start doing a press tour immediately. She responds by telling him she’s in the middle of her wedding and will be there first thing Monday morning, then takes the phone away from her ear to take pictures. But right after she says she’s at her wedding, her assistant says into the phone, “You’re getting married? Jess I’m in love with you.” This was hilarious to me and I couldn’t tell you why. Maybe because it’s hinting at this completely other storyline we never get that’s centered around him, or imagining this main character we’ve spent so much time with as merely a piece in someone else’s story? Maybe because it’s such an intense emotional admission and they never explain it or do anything with it?? She never even hears it!! Whatever it was, it tickled me.

The biggest problem with this movie is that it seemed Hollywood made a white and black version of the same movie (literally saw an article titled exactly that) and there were big picture ASTOUNDING similarities between the two that caused them to be compared: ensemble female comedic cast, same month release, a group of college friends travel to a new city to get back together because one of them has an important life event, the first scene of the movie is a college flashback with them doing a choreographed dance, like astounding.

But aside from those structural things, the content/movies themselves are actually pretty different. Girls Trip is more character driven and focused. We learn more backstory, motivation, we feel for the characters more and see them all as complete and complex people. It’s also just funny. Knee-slapping funny. In Rough Night we don’t know that much about anyone, it’s mostly about how the group dynamic is reacting to the situation they find themselves in, and the vibe is totally different: tenuous and awkward and it’s not trying to be funny the whole time. It’s not just a straight comedy. Truthfully, it never stood a chance the second it was compared to Girls Trip because it’s just not as good but despite everything, they’re not that similar of movies.

So basically, I liked it- I think if you’re willing to go suspension of disbelief/cognitively know that sex workers lives aren’t disposable, you’re not a bad person for liking this movie. (But also sit with how bad white women are for a lil bit! Can’t hurt).

Equality to me is that women get to make shitty insensitive comedies that history (and also blogs right now!) will look unkindly on/judge them for and Rough Night is that comedy!! For women!!!

3.5/5 beach tampons, would masturbate again




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