ROUGH NIGHT: A long-standing principle of comedy is that a guy slipping and falling on a banana peel isn’t funny until you know he isn’t hurt. But in this feminine retread of THE HANGOVER (2009), which itself was vastly overrated, a bachelorette party/bar crawl goes really wrong when a dude thought to be a male stripper (Ryan Cooper) is accidentally killed. Up to that point, what had been a ribald comedy about four former college friends (Jillian Bell, Ilana Glazer, Scarlett Johansson, Zoe Kravitz) together for a reunion debauch in Miami Beach is quickly transformed into a cover-up of a death that leaves viewers uncertain about how to react. As a result, the screenplay from director Lucia Aniello and co-star Paul W. Downs loses its comic mojo, never to be recovered. That’s not to say there aren’t laughs because there are some scattershot sequences that deliver moments of hilarity…usually involving Kate McKinnon (GHOSTBUSTERS) as an off-center Aussie friend of Johansson’s (HAIL, CAESAR!). But for the most part, the movie is a rather ersatz knock-off of BRIDESMAIDS (2011) where gender equality amounts to women being as decadent and scatological as their male counterparts. Not even a fairly clever concluding “twist” can save this film which is burdened by subplots involving some “randy” neighbors (Ty Burrell, Demi Moore) and a diaper-wearing fiancé (Downs), who has no business marrying anyone, that are cringe-inducing in their pointlessness of plot. There is a segment in the film where Bell (22 JUMP STREET) downs a shot of some distilled spirit and then proceeds to throw up on the bar. At that moment, the filmmakers responsible for this aimless mess could at least understand how the audience felt.
CRITIC’S GRADE: C
DOUBLE FEATURE: Ever since JAWS (1975), summer has become the breeding ground for “copycat” shark attack movies like 47 METERS DOWN where two sisters (Claire Holt, Mandy Moore) become trapped in a cage on the ocean floor. Most of the drama, though, swirls around the panic stricken siblings and their squabbling while they try to figure out how to resurface without being eaten. Such a minimalist plot does have its share of close calls, narrow escapes and “jump out of your seat” scares. But it’s also episodic and never mines the potential of its premise. What’s more, the conclusion comes off like a fruit basket of alternate endings that takes a bite out of the movie’s possible impact.
CRITIC’S GRADE: C+