Saturday, November 25, 2017
Things To Do

'Rough Night' flips through hangover movie cliches tweaked for women

RECOMMENDED READING


June has been a big month for women in movies with Wonder Woman, Megan Leavey and even Cars 3 putting them on equal or better footing than men.

Now comes Rough Night, proving women are just as capable as men of shaping mediocre comedies.

A catnip cast and director Lucia Aniello's Broad City instincts are drowned by gender-flipped formula not shaken up enough. If girls will be boys then show boys how they can do raunchy better. Rough Night wouldn't be fresh or funny no matter what gender it's written about or for.

Take Scarlett Johansson's Jess, for example. She has one of those movie occupations typically reserved for men: running for political office with fiance Peter (Paul W. Downs) patiently on the side. Jess' tight race would be a good reason to skip a Miami bachelorette party, but making sense would stop this movie dead in its tracks.

Jess party pals include three college friend types: former roommate and currently needy Alice (Jillian Bell), scrappy Frankie (Ilana Glazer) and her dorm fling Blair (Zoe Kravitz), now unhappily married. The latter couple's sexual tension is the only thing separating this crew from Hangover dynamics. Well, that and Kate McKinnon's unchecked lunacy.

McKinnon plays Jess' friend from New Zealand, Pippa, whom the bride-to-be apparently never mentioned to anyone. The performance is a clear example of how little control Aniello exerted. Nothing about Pippa's meth-eyed mania and McKinnon's accent suggests she might actually exist, which would improve comic effect.

Rough Night flips energetically through hangover genre tropes, tweaked for feminine expression. Blow-up dolls are now phallic party favors. Cocaine is more nightclub chic than rooftop roofies. One party's hooker is the other's male dancer (Ryan Cooper), whose accidental death is this story's hook. All roads lead to involvement with dangerous criminals, the last refuge of aimless screenwriters Downs and Aniello.

The dancer's death knocks Rough Night off its feminism rhythm, darkly at first then madcap to a fault. These women who had their acts together (well, not Pippa) fall apart, making wacky choices of how to dispose of the corpse; Bridesmaids at Bernie's. Johansson seems more uncomfortable with each gag, feeling better when the script puts a gun in her hand. Bell's blank-faced overcompensation is the closest to a genuine comic performance although Ty Burrell and Demi Moore's turns as next-door swingers steal the show.

As co-writer, Downs did himself a favor with his role as Peter, whose misunderstanding of Jess' intention sends him on a "sad astronaut" road trip to Miami. That term and its definition are the only part of Rough Night likely to be cribbed for use among friends. It's also a bummer that in a comedy about women the dude still gets the choicest material.

Contact Steve Persall at spersall@tampabay.com or (727) 893-8365. Follow @StevePersall.

 
Comments

TODAYAutosF1: Abu Dhabi Grand Prix qualifying8 a.m.NBCSNCollege basketballSavannah State at Texas Tech3 p.m.FSFNorth Florida at Miami4 p.m.Fox SunEmerald Coast Classic, final: TCU vs. St. Bonaventure-Maryland winner7 p.m.CBSSNBoston College at Provid...
Updated: 6 hours ago
Brian Setzer talks about Tom Petty, ‘The Simpsons’ and his third act with holiday music

Brian Setzer talks about Tom Petty, ‘The Simpsons’ and his third act with holiday music

Brian Setzer knows he’s overdue for a trip to Florida. For 13 years, the Grammy-winning rockabilly guitarist and big-band frontman has been packing theaters coast to coast for his annual Christmas Rocks Tour. But somehow, he keeps skipping this area....
Updated: 10 hours ago
Top things to do this weekend: Lindsey Stirling, Faizon Love, Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood Live

Top things to do this weekend: Lindsey Stirling, Faizon Love, Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood Live

PULLING STRINGS: Lindsey StirlingDubstep violist Lindsey Stirling shot to fame as a quarter-finalist on America’s Got Talent in 2010 and she has been rocking the spangles on Dancing With the Stars this season as the last woman left . But on Friday yo...
Published: 11/22/17
Updated: 11/24/17
5 things to do under $5 Nov. 23-30: Craft festival, License-Free Saltwater Fishing Day, Snow Bash

5 things to do under $5 Nov. 23-30: Craft festival, License-Free Saltwater Fishing Day, Snow Bash

1. Gem, Jewelry and Bead Show and Sale: Check out these rocks when more than 50 dealers from around the United States sell crystals, minerals, beads, gems and jewelry. $5. Coliseum, 535 Fourth Ave. N, St. Petersburg. 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday through ...
Published: 11/22/17
Updated: 11/24/17
4 art exhibits to check out with family (or on your own) over Thanksgiving weekend

4 art exhibits to check out with family (or on your own) over Thanksgiving weekend

Perhaps you have relatives in town for the weekend, and you’re running out of ways to entertain them. Or maybe you’re wondering what to do with your long weekend. There’s a perfect solution for either scenario: Go see some art. There’s plenty on vi...
Published: 11/22/17
Updated: 11/24/17
What's in theaters for Thanksgiving: 'Coco,' 'Last Flag Flying,' 'The Man Who Invented Christmas'

What's in theaters for Thanksgiving: 'Coco,' 'Last Flag Flying,' 'The Man Who Invented Christmas'

NOW IN THEATERS: COCO Disney-Pixar’s animated dramedy Coco (PG) is inspired by Mexico’s annual Dia de los Muertos, the "day of the dead" when departed ancestors are celebrated. Good for diversity, although the movie isn’t as good ...
Published: 11/22/17
Black Friday, Cyber Monday ticket deals in Tampa Bay: Amy Grant, Diana Krall, 98 Degrees and more

Black Friday, Cyber Monday ticket deals in Tampa Bay: Amy Grant, Diana Krall, 98 Degrees and more

This Black Friday weekend, you can head to your local shopping center and fight traffic to get the perfect gift. Or you can stay at home by your computer and give the gift of entertainment.A handful of Tampa Bay concert venues are offering ticket dea...
Published: 11/22/17
This week’s best Tampa Bay concerts: Brian Setzer, Amy Grant and Michael W. Smith, 21 Savage, more

This week’s best Tampa Bay concerts: Brian Setzer, Amy Grant and Michael W. Smith, 21 Savage, more

SWINGIN’ AROUND THE CHRISTMAS TREE: Brian Setzer OrchestraWhen you spend 13 straight Thanksgivings on the road, you build some traditions with your crew. "We get a big ballroom," said Brian Setzer. "I don’t know how many turkeys we go through, but ev...
Published: 11/22/17
Some ways to celebrate Thanksgiving that aren’t Thanksgiving

Some ways to celebrate Thanksgiving that aren’t Thanksgiving

Happy Turkey Day!Or is it? Sometimes life just doesn’t come together at 2 p.m. on Thursday.Circumstances mean it’s not always possible to sit around the table on Thanksgiving, a family in a Publix ad smiling over a glistening bird. Maybe family is ou...
Published: 11/22/17
Watch the unseen footage in ‘Planes, Trains and Automobiles’ trailer

Watch the unseen footage in ‘Planes, Trains and Automobiles’ trailer

Can we all agree that John Hughes' Planes, Trains and Automobiles is the ultimate Thanksgiving movie? (And maybe actually his best movie of the '80s? Think about it.) And though I'm sure many of us will be watching it again this holiday weekend, when...
Published: 11/22/17