Rough Night – review (Netflix)

      Jess (Scarlett Johansson), Alice (Jillian Bell), Blair (Zoe Kravitz) and Frankie (Ilana Glazer) are close friends in college. They promise that they will always stay in touch, ten years later with their lives all in very different places, the friends get together for Jess’ bachelorette party. 

    Alice, who is a teacher and believes herself to be Jess’ best friend, is desperate to have a brilliant weekend. Jess has gotten into politics and is campaigning for congress. Her fiancé, Peter (Paul W Downs) loves her dearly but is deathly dull and a bit of a square. Blair has gone up in the world and is wealthy, but she is separated from her husband, Malcolm (Mark Tallman), and is fighting for custody of their child. 

    Frankie is unemployed and an environmental activist. Frankie and Blair were a thing back in college. In Miami, where they are having the weekend, Jess has been loaned a beach apartment by her campaign donor. The ladies go out to dinner and meet Pip (Kate McKinnon) who Alice is immediately jealous of and proceeds to call her Kiwi from that point on, even though she is from Australia. 

   Jess wants to have an early night, but the rest of the women refuse to allow that. Alice looks for a club. Frankie, who had gone to the bathroom, returns and says she knows where they can get some cocaine. The ladies snort and then go out to party. Whilst out, Blair suggests they get a stripper for Jess. Frankie organises the stripper. They take more coke. 

   Meanwhile, at Peter’s Batchelor party, he and his friends are wine tasting. Back in Miami, a man (Ryan Cooper) knocks on the door. Blair opens the door and assumes he is the stripper. He just goes with it and begins to do an awkward strip routine. Jess sits him in a chair and an over-exuberant Alice jumps into his lap, knocking his chair back. He hits his head and dies. 

    The women start to panic. Jess does not want them to call the police. She is running for office and they are all high on drugs, it would ruin her. Frankie concurs, she is already on two strikes and believes that if she is arrested she could get a long prison sentence.

Blair calls her uncle Jack (Peter Francis James). Jess calls Peter and panics about the situation over the phone. She does not tell him what has happened, her conversation interrupted by the other ladies. Peter believes that she wants to break up with him. 

    Blair confiscates all of the phones and they go out a buy a burner phone. The other ladies move the body into the garage after it is seen by the neighbour’s dog. The other two women return as Kiwi struggles to keep the garage door shut. All the women then move the body into a wardrobe.  

    Blair calls her uncle. He tells them that they are fine as long as they have not moved the body. They tell him they have moved the body.  He tells them that they have to get rid of the body. Peter discusses his situation with his friends. They tell him he has to go and win her back. He has to drive to Miami, which will require wearing diapers so as he does not have to stop. 

   The women decide to drop the dead man into the sea but get interrupted by the neighbours, Pietro (Ty Burrell) and Lea (Demi Moore), a highly sexualised older couple who take a fancy to Blair. The women manage to deter them and Kiwi dumps the body in the ocean. As they return, Alice notices that the neighbours have security cameras pointing at the beach. 

   The women tell Blair she has to get the film. Peter is on the road to Miami. Blair has a sexual episode on the beach with Pietro and Lea. She asks them for a copy of the tape. They tell her that theirs no tape as the cameras do not work and are only for show. Blair tells the women and they clean up the apartment. 

    Peter gets pulled over for speeding. Alice insists on the friends, excluding Kiwi, having a photo on the beach. They see the dead man washed up on the beach. They bring the body back into the apartment. Peter gets off with a speeding ticket. The women try to think of ways to get rid of the body.

There is another knock at the door. It is a policeman (Colton Haynes). Frankie answers the door. When the policeman comes into the house he begins to frisk Frankie inappropriately. She knocks him unconscious. When they try to remove him, his clothes come off easily. 

   They realise that he is the stripper that Frankie order. They do not know who the dead man is. They take the strippers car and try to get rid of the dead guy. Peter, meanwhile, has had some credit issues and is washing windscreen in a service station as he tries to raise money for gas. 

    Goaded by Alice, Frankie drives too fast and crashes the car. They have to return to the apartment with the dead guy. Back at the apartment, all the women argue, truths about how they fell coming out. Alice finds out Jess had a bridal shower and she did not get invited. Jess goes to have a shower. 

    The other ladies find the dead guys phone and realise that someone is tracking him. They let in two men, Ruiz (Enrique Murciano) and Fraizer (Dean Winters) who they believe to be Miami police officers. The women confess and relax as the men tell them that they will not get in trouble for the death. They ask about some diamonds. The women no nothing about any diamonds. 

   Kiwi sees the dead man, plus the two officers, are wanted for a robbery. She alerts Blair and Blair tries to get her phone. The real stripper wakes up and prevents Blair from getting the phone. Ruiz and Fraizer realise that they have been rumbled and tie the women and the stripper up. 

   Fraizer goes to search the house and Jess gets the gun off of him and handcuffs him to the sink. She goes and stops Ruiz killing the others but Fraizer gets free and threatens to kill them. Peter crashes through the apartment and knocks over Frazier, rescuing them all.

    Jess and Peter get married in Miami. Frankie and Blair get back together and the stripper gets together with Alice. The end. 

   Rough Night, the 2017 comedy, is kind of rubbish. Written by Paul W Downs and Lucia Aniello, with Aniello also directing, the film is a weak girlfriends comedy, with elements of Weekend at Bernie’s. Once again, Kate McKinnon is allowed to overact in a poorly written film. McKinnon is a talented comedienne who seems to routinely appear in wretched comedic properties. 

    The best thing she does in the film is the song in the closing credits. The rest of the time she bumbles around, gurning and churning out feeble dialogue. Truth be told, it is not only McKinnon who suffers in this film. The rest of the central cast is woefully underwritten, with their lives outside of their friendship barely looked at. 

    Not that their external lives were integral to the plot, but for the dynamics, the film was aiming for to work, they needed to be stronger. Downs’ Peter was just an indulgence. His scenes added very little to the film and his escapades to reach Miami, in diapers, not at all funny. Instead of giving himself more scenes in the film, Downs would have been better off focusing on the female characters’ backstories.

    The incident that propels the film takes far too long to happen, especially as – I have already mentioned – the characters were so underdeveloped. It is a full half-hour into the film before the man mistaken for a stripper dies. The film picks up pace after that, but not much. 

   Rough Night should have been a fast-moving farce, given its ridiculous premise. Instead, it plods along, excruciating scene after excruciating scene, a laugh-free zone. The ladies panic and come up with hare-brained ideas to get rid of the body. The idea goes wrong, they panic some more. 

     Rough Night, at one hundred minutes long, is a sorry excuse for a comedy. With a strong cast and an estimated budget of some twenty million dollars, which I can only believe went mostly on hiring Johansson, Rough Night is nearly two hours of disappointment. It is not as bad as the risible The Spy Who Dumped Me, but it is not much better. 

    Rough Night is mildly amusing in parts, though I would be hard press to say which parts those were. Rough Night is probably one you can give a miss.  


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