Hot Take: Proof that comedy is very personal… and personally, this didn’t do much for me.
Scarlett Johansson is not having the best year. After four solid roles in 2016 (two in a voice-only capacity), she started off this year with the very disappointing Ghost in the Shell. The follow-up is Rough Night, a blend of Very Bad Things, The Hangover and Bridesmaids that has a few laughs and a game cast but predictable punchlines to set-ups and a lame story drag down the film and make it a subpar comedy offering.
As you watch the movie, you’ll see things happen in the background and it doesn’t take long to figure out that, at some point, those random things happening will end up actually playing a role in the story. It’s not so much a bad thing as it is telegraphed in such a way that it makes where the story is going predictable. You’re really not here for the story anyway but knowing where the story goes also telegraphs many of the jokes which waters down their effectiveness. There are never any real surprises and some of the jokes that lack exposition go over like a lead balloon. For example, Kate McKinnon plays Pippa, an Australian friend of Scarlett Johansson’s Jess who flies into Miami for her bachelorette party. During the group’s initial meeting, Pippa is shut out of getting food but fear not because the Australian has some Vegemite handy to curb her hunger. Get it? Nope. Probably not.
Unfortunately for Rough Night, the jokes end up being too predictable, telegraphed or antediluvian to be more than a light chuckle. There aren’t any memorable laughs that you’ll run to talk about after the movie when you find out others have seen it and it’s a good possibility that by the end of the summer, you’ll forget about this move altogether.
Again, though, comedy is personal and I don’t think I laughed more than twice watching Bridesmaids. There’s plenty of people who’ve told me that I’m crazy for thinking that movie isn’t one of the funniest films of the 21st century. The film’s opening could have a lot to do with it, also. As the movie opens, we meet Jess and her friends (played by Jillian Bell, Zoë Kravitz and Ilana Glazer) at college. Right there, you’ve hooked most of the nostalgic female college grads who instantly relate to the group at drunken college parties and hanging out in their dorm. It’s the Big Bang Theory effect. Now, this group thinks this movie is about them and all of the sudden, everything is so much funnier. I commuted to college, didn’t go to drunken parties and thought most of the stories people told me about their college days were pretty lame. That could explain my overall inability to find the humor in this movie. That and how many vibrator jokes do you really need to make? Just sayin’!
That being said, even despite the lack of hard laughs, the movie isn’t a total disaster. Johansson and friends work really well together despite the overall lack of something to work with. Plus, it’s another predominately female cast with a female director (Lucia Aniello) and that’s actually progress when women are allowed to make mediocre flicks since there’s so many mediocre androcentric films to choose from.
“Spoiler Free” Pros
- Scarlett Johansson
Even if we’re not, Johansson appears to really enjoy this role and it helps overcome some of the bland aspects of the comedy.
“Spoiler Free” Cons
- Not One But Two End Credit Scenes? Ugh!
Admittedly, I left before the end credit scenes. Actually, I left in the middle of the first scene which features Kate McKinnon cementing the fact that this film was inspired in some way by The Hangover as she performs an original song (similar to Ed Helms in the other film) detailing the girls’ adventures. But let’s stop with the end credit scenes, okay? They’ve lost their shine.