Rough Night can best be described as the girl power version of Very Bad Things or Stag. It doesn't go as crazy as those films, but has the same premise. The story is disjointed and runs slow at times, but the ensemble cast is quite funny with one standout performance. I will say that all the women in the audience were howling with laughter throughout. That's the target, so Sony may have a big hit. Rough Night is the feature film debut from Lucia Aniello, a writer and director from Comedy Central's Broad City.
Rough Night begins with Jess (Scarlett Johansson), Alice (Jillian Bell), Blair (Zoe Kravitz), and Frankie (Ilana Glazer) going wild at a frat party in college. After the hijinks, they swear to remain best friends forever. Ten years later, Jess is a successful politician running for state senate. She's engaged to be married to the mild and complacent Peter (Paul W. Downs). Alice, a bored schoolteacher, has organized a wild bachelorette, or hen party for our European readers, in raucous South Beach, Miami.
Jess would prefer a quiet reunion, but Alice is hell bent on some serious partying. They rent a beachside mansion, stocked with penis-shaped party favors for the debauchery. Alice is stunned and jealous when Pippa (Kate McKinnon) shows up from Australia. She's a friend of Jess's from her semester abroad. The girls settle in awkwardly when a stripper that Blair found on Craigslist arrives. The party takes a twisted turn when the hot man dancing turns into a corpse.
Rough Night entertains because the female ensemble is likeable. The ladies have chemistry together and successfully portray besties. The stripper plot and shenanigans that follow gave me a light chuckle. It honestly isn't fall down humorous until Peter, the fiance, enters the story with his own crazy subplot. I won't give it away here, but his race to find his beloved is absolutely wild. In fact, I wouldn't mind watching a movie just about Peter's problems getting to Miami.
Here's where I take another paragraph in a review extolling the greatness of Jillian Bell. This actress has established herself as a comedy rockstar. We've seen her on Comedy Central, 22 Jump Street, Fist Fight, and The Night Before. Alice is the heart of the film. She's the frumpy, mega-horny best friend living in the shadow of the gorgeous Jess. Jillian Bell plays this character perfectly. I think we all know someone like Alice and can relate to her antics. Everything Jillian Bell touches is comedy gold.
From Sony Pictures, Rough Night has the chance to be this year's Bridesmaids. It's not nearly on that level, but funny enough to warrant a recommendation. The black humor gets more mileage in the capable hands of Jillian Bell, Kate McKinnon, and Paul W. Downs. Scarlett Johansson is the marquee star, but she's more the on the sidelines watching the madness develop. Grab your bridal sashes, get a few cocktails in, and enjoy Rough Night. It's the only adult comedy this week at the box office.