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The ‘Rough Night’ Exit Survey

Was the ‘Broad City’ team’s humor enough to overcome a plot weighed down by accidental death? The Ringer staff answers that and more.

(Sony Pictures Entertainment)
(Sony Pictures Entertainment)

The minds behind Broad City plus Scarlett Johansson, Kate McKinnon, Zoë Kravitz, Jillian Bell — with a cast and crew that stacked, it was hard to imagine anything keeping Rough Night from being the best comedy of the summer. As it turns out, though, the accidental death of a sex worker (even if he turns out to be a bad guy) is QUITE the downer. After spending two-plus hours watching some of the best, funniest actresses of our time try to lift Rough Night beyond its premise, staff members from The Ringer got together to talk it out.

1. What is your tweet-length review of ‘Rough Night’?

K. Austin Collins: Having a rough night? Avoid Rough Night.

Charlotte Goddu: A movie about ladies … that is so boring, you’ll swear it was about men!

Andrew Gruttadaro: I am glad this movie exists. Oh, you’re asking if it was good? I am glad this movie exists.

Lindsay Zoladz: This movie was funny, and I wish more people saw it this weekend!

Amanda Dobbins: I like all of these people individually and I wish them well in future endeavors so that we never have to talk about this again.

2. What was the best moment of the movie?

Goddu: Peter’s bachelor party. Bros analyzing wine and romantic relationships will never not be fun. Plus, "wine-tipsy with your best friends and zero (0) dead bodies" strikes me as the platonic ideal of bachelor parties, a philosophical counterbalance to the girls’ debacle in Miami.

Collins: The emotional powwows with the dudes? They’re the only part of the movie’s ironic role-reversal that worked. The bachelorette half failed because half of the actresses they cast are bad at slapstick bullshit — they were set up to fail. But the dudes got a lane that really suited them, and it worked.

(Sony Pictures Entertainment)
(Sony Pictures Entertainment)

Zoladz: The slow-motion sequence of Paul W. Downs and Bo Burnham buying adult diapers set to "The Next Episode." I laughed so hard I very nearly needed an adult diaper myself.

Gruttadaro: A couple of small moments really got me: Bo Burnham’s character earnestly saying he’s getting notes of "beeswax" during a wine tasting, and Kate McKinnon staggering and then falling face-first after crashing a jet ski.

Dobbins: Zoë Kravitz and Ilana Glazer finding love.

3. What was your least favorite part of the film?

Dobbins: … the premise and then how they stuck to it?

Collins: "I almost shot you!"

Great, dude.

Gruttadaro: I can’t remember exactly when in the movie it happened, but my least favorite part was when I started to fear that maybe Ilana Glazer can only be Ilana Wexler.

Zoladz: Just how tethered the movie was to the general plot. I didn’t care much about the overall arc; I just wanted to see these people riffing. Less accidental death cover-up; more Kate McKinnon doing … literally anything.

Goddu: If I have to pick just one thing? The glint of a single nipple piercing on a dead sex worker is an image that stays with me, and not in a good way.

4. Who was the MVP of ‘Rough Night’?

Gruttadaro: Paul W. Downs deserves all of the praise he’s rightly about to get, but let me cast a novelty vote for Bo Burnham. His dramatic retelling of Lisa Nowak’s story made me giddy, and I could’ve watched Burnham and Downs buy adult diapers in slo-mo while Dr. Dre’s "The Next Episode" plays for about 10 minutes.

Zoladz: Paul W. Downs. Not only did he cowrite the film, but he stole the show as ScarJo’s nebbish but admirably devoted fiancé, Peter. The entire sequence when he’s trying to raise gas money while pantsless in a gas station was masterful.

Collins: Paul W. Downs, who really redeemed short men in Hollywood after their stock tanked thanks to The Mummy. Not that I’m saying Tom Cruise is short, which is libel — I’m just saying. Runner-up? The only one who got hers: Zoë Kravitz.

Goddu: The actual Craigslist stripper, because his bafflement/horror matched my own. It’s always nice to identify.

Dobbins: McKinnon stays undefeated, but also … not even Kate McKinnon could save this one. That is truly puzzling.

5. Did you take issue with the movie’s dark plot?

Dobbins: I just don’t understand the decision — "We killed someone, oops, boner jokes" is just an impossible and unfunny setup, no matter how "edgy" you’re trying to be. (But it doesn’t help that the studio inserted all that best friends forever crap.)

Collins: No. Do I wish they weren’t, like, dry-humping a dead guy? Sure. I also just wish the tone of this had been pulled off. I wish the direction were more aggressively satirical; the same script could’ve played way, way differently.

Zoladz: It felt unnecessary. This tale of female friendship could have been told without a dead stripper, and we would have been better for it.

Goddu: Yes, but I also took issue with almost everything else about it.

Gruttadaro: Yes. Even with the ending retconning some of the group’s guilt away, it was unshakably disturbing and distracting to watch these friends drag around (and tamper with, and kiss?) a dead body for two hours.

6. Finish the sentence: "Demi Moore and Ty Burrell were …"

(Sony Pictures Entertainment)
(Sony Pictures Entertainment)

Collins: … getting paid, so I’m not mad. Side note: Why is Ty Burrell so good at being creepy? At least he knows it, I guess.

Gruttadaro: … a surprisingly fun cliché!

Goddu: … hot in a way that made me uncomfortable? That was the point, right?

Zoladz: … the glamorous Hollywood version of that old Will Ferrell–Rachel Dratch SNL skit "The Lovers."

7. This is the first jump from TV to film for the minds behind ‘Broad City’ — how’d they do?

Goddu: Not great.

Dobbins: I’d like to give them the benefit of the doubt, since (a) studio comedies are apparently impossible in this decade, (b) people meddle, and (c) not everything can be Broad City. But this is not the movie I imagined when I heard that Paul Downs, Lucia Aniello, Ilana Glazer, Kate McKinnon, Jillian Bell, Zoë Kravitz, and Scarlett Johansson were working together. It’s a missed opportunity, for sure.

Gruttadaro: Not that well, and by box office standards, even worse. Still, we need to let the trio of Downs, Glazer, and director Lucia Aniello make a thousand more movies. They deserve another chance, one that is not weighed down by the unfortunate death of a stripper.

Zoladz: I do prefer them working more on their own terms and within a less traditional format, but props to them for aiming high and trying to infiltrate studio comedy.

Collins: Isn’t it better for everyone involved if no one makes that connection?

8. Where does ‘Rough Night’ rank in the "Bachelor/ette party gone wrong" genre?

Zoladz: Anything’s better than another Hangover movie.

Gruttadaro: Somewhere in between The Hangover and the bajillion Hangover sequels.

Goddu: Less fun than The Hangover but less creepy than Very Bad Things. Rough Night isn’t in last place, because it’s not totally objectionable (even if someone does die). It’s just also not very good.

9. Would you ever wear an adult diaper for love?

Gruttadaro: Maybe! But I would not snort meth. That’s where I draw the line.

Zoladz: Yes, but I would never eat Vegemite for love.

Dobbins: No. Also: Why was that plotline in this movie???

Goddu: Yes. I am a romantic.

Collins: Can we not?