Zoe Kravitz

Rough Night

If I want to see a movie, I’m going to see it no matter what – I’m not dissuaded by negative word of mouth. I’ve gone to see movies that I knew would be awful, like Soul Plane. When I saw the trailer for Rough Night, it struck me as a knock-off of Bridesmaids and very similar to the forthcoming Girls Trip. However, I still wanted to see it despite it seeming derivative. Moreover, I like Scarlett Johansson (Ghost in the Shell) and Zoe Kravitz, (Mad Max: Fury Road), who star alongside Jillian Bell (Fist Fight), Kate McKinnon (Ghostbusters), and Ilana Glazer (The Night Before) as a group of girlfriends reuniting for their friend Jess’ (Johansson) bachelorette party in Miami.

Once a hard-partying co-ed, Jess is now an uptight political candidate, a far cry from former beer pong champion. Alice is a teacher, Blair is a wealthy divorcee and mother, and Frankie has become one of those “crunchy,” annoying social justice warrior types. Jess’ fiancé Peter (Paul Downs, Broad City) is a nice guy, but he is about as exciting as a jar of mayonnaise. Alice is especially close with Jess, spearheading their weekend shenanigans. Rounding out the bunch is Jess’ Aussie pal Pippa, amusingly played by Kate McKinnon.

Writer Lucia Aniello borrowed a page from Bridesmaids, with Alice as the friend who is jealous of her best friend’s new buddy, in a familiar subplot. The crew gets wasted throughout the weekend, as emotions bubble to the surface. Frankie is secretly in love with one of the gang, while Alice and Jess have some unresolved issues that have cropped up in recent years. Friendships evolve, they wax and wane as we mature and dynamics change. The movie touched on the ways in which friends can become distant, but find their way home to each other in the end. The camaraderie and bond of friendship strengthened the movie, but make no mistake: this movie is best viewed at home on the sofa in the absence of sobriety.

Rough Night is not a movie to be taken seriously. It’s probably a good move for the likes of McKinnon, but I imagine Johansson was just bored and maybe thought this would be a fun movie to make. The movie’s major plot point involving a would-be stripper was nothing short of ridiculous. Like, Weekend at Bernie’s levels of stupidity – but without the charm. Demi Moore (Margin Call) makes a cameo, but it only serves to heighten the absurdity of it all. I knew it wouldn’t be good, but I didn’t mind paying the five. You’ve been warned! Grade: C


Seems like those coming-of-age “day in the life of” movies are some of the most memorable. The awkward, pressure-filled years of high school make for entertaining subject matter, and Dope gave me that nostalgic feeling, hearkening back to classic movies like House Party, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, and Risky Business, where hapless high school students find themselves in a sticky situation. Set against a unique yet familiar California backdrop, the movie was a cool homage to 90’s culture with enough current hipster-isms to be perfectly relevant to today’s times.

Malcolm (Shameik Moore), Diggy (Kiersey Clemons), and Jib (Tony Revolori) are three 90’s-obsessed best friends living in Inglewood, California. In the microcosmic world that is high school, they’re considered geeks – but their love of hip hop from the recent past is ironically as cool as it gets. Malcolm is aware that his story is clichéd: he comes from a single-parent household; never really met his father, and lives in a rough neighborhood. He distinguishes himself by going against the grain in both the company he keeps and their shared avant-garde musical pursuits. Unfortunately, their punk band’s biggest fan is probably the school custodian. Malcolm is college-bound, hoping that his stellar grades and SAT scores will secure him admission to Harvard.

Has there ever been a geek in a movie that didn’t predictably pine away for a beautiful girl presumably out of his league? Nakia (Zoe Kravitz, Fury Road) is the object of Malcolm’s affection, an older girl from the neighborhood who similarly aspires to more than her surroundings. When they cross paths and she casually invites him to a party – Malcolm and his crew know they have to be there. At the party, Malcolm inadvertently gets tangled up with the local dope boy and finds himself in a crazy predicament that threatens all the hard work he’s done to prepare for his future.

I don’t want to spoil too much of the plot, but suffice to say that Dope was a fun ride. The soundtrack featured much of the music I grew up with, and most thirty-somethings and 80’s babies alike will appreciate the song placement as well as the characters’ affinity for the culture. There are some notable names attached to the film, as Forest Whitaker is credited with producing and narrating. Additionally, Pharrell Williams is an executive producer, and his musical influence on the young trio’s aesthetic is obvious. Sure the plot went left a couple of times – but this is not a movie to be dissected. I was surprised to see so many older people of varying backgrounds in the theater – so maybe this film has universal appeal for anyone who remembers their awkward (or awesome) high school days. Dope was dope. Grade: A-