PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Recalling The Hangover, Bridesmaids, Very Bad Things, and Weekend at Bernie’s – or, instead, tossing them in a blender — should give you a rough idea of the tone of Rough Night.
But regardless of how you feel about those generic predecessors, you should expect a rough time on the night you see this one.
Did I mention that it was rough? As in rough draft.
But at least it demonstrates that women have the freedom and ability to make movies just as raunchy and free-spirited as those made by, with, and for men.
And they’re also allowed to make them just as fitfully funny – and a lot less funny than they think they are.
Which is what they’ve done in this case.
Rough Night is a broad-as-broad-gets comedy that finds five friends from college – played by Scarlett Johansson, Kate McKinnon, Jillian Bell, Ilana Glazer, and Zoe Kravitz – reuniting in Miami for a weekend ten years after graduation.
What they’re after is a wild bachelorette weekend before Jess, the state senate candidate played by Johansson, gets married.
And that’s what they get, but with something extra:
At some point during all the hearty partying, to their astonished horror, the male stripper they have hired is accidentally killed.
And let’s just say that the decision-making apparatus they find themselves using from that point on is decidedly shaky.
The director, Lucia Aniello, makes her feature-film directorial debut following a television background – especially on Broad City — with a script she co-wrote with Paul W. Downs, who also plays Jess’s fiance, that explores female friendship.
Originally titled Move That Body, then Rock That Body, Rough Night has a few explosively funny slapstick bits, but they too often follow scenes that feel strained and fall flat.
The talented cast do what they can to bring underwritten characters to three-dimensional life, thus turning types into characters. But mostly they’re carried along by a too-busy script and a director who seems unwilling to slow things down long enough for relationships to reveal themselves in a way that ups our emotional investment in their plight.
So we’ll celebrate 2 stars out of 4 for the manic and raucous R-rated black farce, Rough Night, a title that also serves as a two-word review.