“Three measures of Gordon’s, one of vodka, half a measure of Kina Lillet. Shake it very well until it’s ice-cold, then add a large thin slice of lemon peel. Got it?” – Ian Fleming’s James Bond in the novel Casino Royale
The formula for the martini preferred by the iconic British spy was mentioned in print only once and did not hit the big screen until Daniel Craig’s first appearance in the role. I mention formula because Rough Night from Lucia Aniello appears to be a formula. Take a large portion of Bridesmaids, add a serving of The Hangover, smaller portions of its sequels and then stir in a soupcon of Weekend at Bernie’s and you have this ribald ripoff. To be fair, there are a number of funny moments.
Four women who were very close when they went to college together are reuniting for a friend’s bachelorette party. “Jess” (Scarlett Johansson – Don Jon) is running for elected office and about to get married to “Peter” (Paul W. Downs who co-wrote the script for this film. “Alice” (Jillian Bell – Office Christmas Party) is a teacher who is more than a bit over the top in how she views her friendship with Jess. “Blair (Zoe Kravitz – Good Kill) is in the middle of a rough custody fight with her own husband over who their daughter will live with. “Frankie” (Ilana Glazer – The Night Before) is an activist whose prior arrests put her at risk of a very long stint in the gray-bar hotel if she messes up again. The quartet is off to Miami for Jess’ bachelorette weekend.
That’s where “Pippa” (Kate McKinnon – Sisters) joins up with the quartet. She and Jess became friends while Jess was spending a semester abroad studying in Australia. The five go out, start drinking, get high and head home. Frankie has hired a male stripper and that’s where things go very, very wrong. Alice gets even wilder and jumps on “Jay” (Ryan Cooper) and accidentally kills him.
Meanwhile, Peter is driving to Miami, convinced that Jess is about to change her mind. In trying to dispose of the body, the women may have been caught on a security camera owned by the neighbors of the house where they are staying. “Lea” (Demi Moore – Happy Tears) and “Pietro” (Ty Burrell – Butter) have issues of their own. Throw in some stolen diamonds, some crooks and you have a wild and wooly final act.
As previously mentioned, there are a number of laughs in this film, but nowhere near the amount or intensity that such a talented cast of comic actors would normally generate. The excessive clinginess of Alice goes too far, although adding Pippa to the dynamic helps that a bit. The actors do what they can with too much contrivance in the story and its various subplots. As always, the acid test for a comedy is did it make you laugh, and were there enough laughs to justify the investment of time in viewing it. In the final analysis, Rough Night is right on the cusp of being worth it.