There is a place in Baltimore called the Visionary Art Museum. It’s for “outsiders,” people driven to create art by madness or passion. There is no commercial aspect, no thoughts of getting rich, just the hope of expelling demons through ink and oil, or getting others to finally see what the artist can’t express in words. It’s full of amazing paintings and sculptures made to express something burning up the insides of their creators. Some of these artists are not professionals and their skills are crude, self-taught. Yet, they are undaunted. They just absolutely have to express themselves.
I think the same is true of whoever keeps writing “Die Pigs” in shit in the Garrison underpass. I assume it’s his own shit. I guess I also assume it’s a he. But it would be pretty cool if it weren’t his shit. Or it were a she. I would like to watch her work.
I admire people who are driven by passion and belief instead of money, even when what they make is incomprehensible or just plain bad. Their work transcends any argument about quality and becomes art through sheer will. It is expression and it has the power of its maker’s convictions.
Rough Night is the exact opposite of visionary art. It’s the poop borne of a commercial ass, of someone whose soul--if they had one--was sold long ago. The script is the film equivalent of a Kentucky Fried Chicken billboard promoting some assortment of greasy foods food for five bucks. The movie itself is that fucking meal, the sort of garbage that looks good in the ad when you’re hungry, but is way, way worse in reality. And it gives you the runs.
How do I know this? Because there is a KFC by my apartment, where the Ralston Conoco I once worked at used to be. And I keep walking over there when I’m drunk and they tell me they don’t open until lunchtime. So then I come back in a few hours, order food and am once again reminded how shitty it is.
Rough Night is about a bachelorette party gone awry. So, Very Bad Things for women. And we should all remember that Very Bad Things was a shitty movie that seemed to hate women more than Hollywood usually does. So, why would someone want to remake that? Especially a bunch of women? It’s not some sort of brave act of feminism. It’s the exact opposite. It’s women kowtowing to a shitty arcane system that embraces the familiarity and safety of old stories, even hateful ones. If anything, women making movies like this is just telling Hollywood they’re right on.
Rough Night is stuffed with more stereotypes than tissues in the bra of an eighth grader at her first dance. Scarlett Johansen plays the bride-to-be, an uptight aspiring state senator whose boyfriend has D.C. plates on his car? Wait, what? Can a movie really get a detail like that wrong? I understand where U.S. Senators work, but why would a state senator live in D.C.? Is this movie really that fucking lazy? Yes.
Johansen serves as the weighty straight-man planet in this movie. The humor is supposed to come from the wacky moons orbiting her. They are her old college chums, although how these people were ever friends in college is bewildering. The usually funny Jillian Bell, is tasked with being a lonely, foul-mouthed mother who, apparently, abandons her kids for a bachelorette weekend. That could be a funny premise but is never brought up.
The otherworldly hot Zoe Kravitz plays a haughty, rich friend who has the comic timing of a tree stump and, like most everyone here, not much to do. She has an encounter with some swingers played by Ty Burrell and Demi Moore that seems like it probably should have had some jokes in it.
Ilana Douglas from Broad City plays the stereotypical lesbian friend who does protests when she isn’t exuding lesbianism. And Kate McKinnon plays an Australian because some dumbass thought a good joke is just having someone do a bad Aussie accent for 100 minutes. She is not given a single funny thing to say or do, unless you count her correcting people when they call her a New Zealander amusing.
The plot goes through the motions. The girls say foul things, Johansen whines a lot. They kill a man they think is a stripper (just like Very Bad Things) and then try to cover it up to protect their friend’s political career. Except, haha, he’s not a stripper but a diamond thief trying to hide. So, it’s okay that they killed him! You see, if I killed your mother today, I would be forgiven if I found out a month later that she once shoplifted a pencil. That’s how morals work for the sorts of assholes who make shit like this movie. I mean, they obviously have no souls, so why would they understand expo facto or right and wrong?
This is also an overly belabored plot for this sort of movie. Why the fuck have the girls kills a stripper? Why not a better idea that doesn’t require Olympic-caliber contortions to make their actions not entirely repugnant or asinine? Because that would require more work and less safety net of familiarity.
It’s appalling how much talent is wasted through ham-fisted direction and writing here. Eric Andre appears, but he isn’t given an opportunity to do a God damn thing. Why use him? An entire subplot about a man wearing adult diapers is highlighted by an overlong montage of him first buying the wrong kind. It’s just so many bad and embarrassing choices, with a crapload of stereotypes hung out to dry with no joke tell, not even about their stereotype.
Did Lucia Aniello, who wrote and directed, give a fuck about a plausible story? No. Did she care about trying something new? Obviously not. She just wanted to do whatever it took to get her movie past the bean counters. That’s how a KFC Five-dollar Fill-up meal gets made, by stuffing familiar-looking greasy shit into a box. But it sure as fuck isn’t how art gets made. One Finger for Rough Night.