Susan Granger’s review of “Rough Night” (Sony)
Feminism takes a couple of steps backward with this estrogen-forced comedy in which a Miami bachelorette weekend goes awry.
Trying for a gender-flipping reversal on “The Hangover” and “Very Bad Things,” blended with “Bridesmaids,” the raucous riff revolves around Jess Thayer (Scarlett Johansson), who is running for the Florida state senate. While she projects a strait-laced image, Jess wasn’t always a goody-two-shoes.
Indeed, as Alice (Jillian Bell), her needy, still-single college roommate reminds her, she once encouraged her in a frat-house beer-pong tournament, whispering “Do it for womankind.”
Now Jess is getting married, and Alice organizes this party weekend at a posh beach house borrowed from one of Jess’s campaign donors.
There’s strident political activist Frankie (Ilana Glazer) and almost-divorced New York socialite Blair (Zoe Kravitz), who were once a hot ’n’ heavy duo back in college days – plus Pippa (Kate McKinnon), Kate’s free-spirited Australian chum, dubbed “Kiwi” by jealous Alice.
After drinking, snorting cocaine and carousing as a posse, complications arise over the accidental death of the brawny male stripper (Ryan Cooper) whom Frankie hired, augmented by the inconvenient attentions of the smarmy swingers-next-door (Demi Moore, Ty Burrell), not to mention the arrival of menacing jewel thieves.
Working from a cliché-laden script she co-wrote with Paul W. Downs, Lucia Aniello (Comedy Central’s “Broad City”) makes her feature directorial debut.
The plot is predictably formulaic and the flimsy, not-very-likable characters are stereotypical, so there’s not much new here – except, perhaps, how the Peter (Paul W. Downs), the upright groom, and his nerdy buddies back home are celebrating at a subdued wine-tasting.
On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, “Rough Night” is only a fitfully funny 5, ostensibly celebrating female friendship.