Til Death Do Us Part
Touted as 2017’s ‘Female Hangover’ Rough Night pitches a five strong clan of frat-like women on a hen’s night of debauchery in Miami.
Lacking the freshness Todd Phillips’ Vegas-based bro-booze-fest exuded when it hit cinemas in 2009, Rough Night brings enough R-rated hoopla for audiences to stand up and take notice. Born in the wake of The Hangover trilogy, and Hollywood’s push for more wonder women onscreen, comes a raucous wedding comedy led by surprise casting – Scarlett Johansson (someone who was perhaps held in a league higher by critics.) Rough Night certainly pushes the boat out – but never cuts anchor and yells ‘to hell with it!’
Johansson, who was clearly the studio and marketing bait for the entire film, is the least interesting of the clan. A so-so political wannabe who’s squeaky clean public image must be kept spotless at all costs, Johansson’s Jess never really delves into foul-mouthed absurdity, but instead coasts off the comedic stings of her co-stars before ending up no worse off than when the film started. Demi Moore and Ty Burrell saunter into proceedings as the perfect creepo-swinger neighbours, with even the deepest of crow’s feet being scorched by a melancholy fake tan. The Bach party running parallel to the Miami bridal bash, led by Jess’ fiancé Peter, generated chuckles, but a streamlining of these cutaways would have allowed deeper exploration of the hen party participants. A few more minutes of Kate McKinnon’s yokel Auzzie or Ilana Glazer’s bottle-rocket protester-for-hire could have mined more gold – or driven their characters even closer to the sandy edge of coke-induced lunacy.
With Queen Latifah’s answer to Rough Night, Girl’s Trip, releasing later in the year, one can’t help but feel the onslaught of femme filth films are too much too late. The plot devices of these popcorn flicks are forced to find buoyancy in a filmic world where girls behaving badly is no longer the left-field crowd-pleaser Bridesmaids (et al) once were. A few standout performances and clickety-split scenes of comedic gold make Rough Night watchable, but may leave hardcore humour groupies seeking something rougher.
3 out of 5 stars