If you’re planning on watching it in the evening, then I’d say this movie does one thing right, it lives up to its name, because you’re sure as hell going to have a rough night.
Rough Night is a dark comedy film directed by Lucia Aniello, it is her first feature film and hopefully her last. It follows the story of a group of friends who get themselves into a snag when the accidentally kill a male stripper they hired.
Right off the bat, we have a motley cast of actresses all thrown together – Scarlett Johansson returns to her role as Black Widow (she uses guns and jumps from ledges). Jillian Bell reprises her role as the goofy aggressive girl from 22 Jump Street (2014) and Fist Fight (2017). You also get an Australian hippy portrayed by Ghost Busters (2016) actress Kate McKinnon and that girl from Mad Max: Fury Road (2015). That’s the cast.
Johansson stands as the veteran actress in this film, and yes she has the least terrible performance here; she’s the only person in this film you can sense any amount of emotional expression in. But if I were to give out an award for this film, the award would like be ‘the least annoying character award‘ – which would go to Kate McKinnon. McKinnon plays an overtly stereotyped Australian and succeeds in this regard, primarily by playing the blissfully innocent foreigner that executes dry humour within a barrage of eye-rolling jokes. Jillian Bell has only ever been funny in the tiniest of doses.
To make things clear, almost all of the jokes within this film miss their target by relying on type-casted dirty humour and surface-level writing. Any time I did laugh throughout this comedy, well, it was not a result of the “witty” script writing, it was the actresses or actors working with poor material and trying their best to make the “joke” funny.
When you attempt to make a film that uses similar story structures and character traits from other films, there’s going to be a fundamental imbalance – it’s hard to ignore some of the blatant similarities that Rough Night has borrowed; a reunion of old friends getting together to party, taking drugs, getting drunk, and making a series of mistakes that need correcting, sound familiar? Yeah this film had some heavy similarities to The Hangover (2009) – not only that, it uses the same best friend rivalry storyline as Bridesmaids (2011), but elicits zero emotional heft. Comedy films are only ever successful when they have their own flavour to them and Rough Night tastes both familiar and bland simultaneously. It feels unnatural to call this film a dark comedy, usually dark comedies are aware of their grim themes, and use those themes as momentum for their humour. Rough Night disregards the dark subject matter and instead makes dick jokes every 10 minutes.
There’s not much to say in the way of camera-work, we get that classic 3 point camera setup with characters faces and their reactions to jokes. The first act of the film is rushed, and this results in the setup of characters happening in bits and pieces throughout the second act. Some of the costuming was fine, but it’s hard to find a particular quality that this film did correctly. The music was atrocious in almost every regard and we can’t say much in the way of colours or lighting.
By the time you’ve finished watching Rough Night, you’ll believe you’re actually hung over; the jokes are a headache, the story stumbles all over the place, and there’s a good chance you’ll regret the entire experience.